You may not have deep frown lines or crow’s feet, but if you feel like you are ageing, chances are that it is thanks to uneven skin tone. Now, we’re not talking a sweet smidgen of freckles over your nose, but the bigger, uneven brown patches on the face, hands, décolletage and shoulder areas. These ageing dark spots are known as pigmentation.
Pigmentation means coloring. Your skin gets its colour from a pigment called melanin. If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker.
The main cause of dark spots is from sun damage. Years of sun exposure can result in hyperpigmentation – the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin. The extent of sun damage depends largely on a person’s skin colour and his or her history of long-term, or intense, sun exposure.
Light individuals – Dark spots from early sun damage occurring in light-skinned individuals tend to be more superficial, affecting only the top layer of skin.
Darker individuals – The most common pigmentation problems occurring in darker skin tones are melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Melasma, also known as Hormonal Pigmentation, is a significant problem for South African women. It is a chronic skin condition that occurs on the face in the form of brown patches that needs lifelong treatment. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a condition in which an injury or inflammation to the skin causes increased pigment production. PIH occurs in darker-skinned individuals and like melasma, can be difficult to treat when it involves a deeper skin layer. The most common cause of this type of pigmentation is acne, but it also can result from psoriasis, a burn, or an injury.
Other factors that cause pigmentation are Addison’s disease, pregnancy, the birth control pill, picking at the skin, certain medications such as anti-biotics and it can be heredity.
One of the best ways to avoid pigmentation is to apply a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30+, which will block both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen needs to be applied regularly if you are outdoors.
Topical creams that contain alpha hydroxyl acid, hydroxyl quinine, azelic acid or kojic acid can be used together with a sunscreen.
If creams do not work there are a number of other treatment options available such a microdermabrasion, chemical peels or fractional lasers.
Anyone who is experiencing changes in their skin tone should see a board-certified dermatologist for proper diagnosis and to start a customized treatment regimen. There are a few home care remedies that could also be tried, although the success of these treatment options is unknown.
Home care remedy
• Peel an avocado, mash it up and apply the juice on pigmented skin.
• Mix a few drops of lime juice with honey and leave it on for 10 minutes.
• Massage cocoa butter on affected skin twice a day for about 2 to 3 weeks.
But as always, prevention is better than cure!
Learning to embrace a more natural lifestyle and living a healthier life is as simple as getting back to the basics. In a crazy, fast-paced world, it is vital to balance your life with as much nature, passion and healing as possible. Efforts to “go green” are being put into motion on a constant basis, but some people want more than that. If you are looking to return to a simpler way of living, consider moving beyond green and “going natural.” Here we offer some basic steps that will help you on your way to leading a beautifully simplistic and more natural life.
GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR EARTHY SIDE
This means getting outside! Get your hands dirty. Walk barefoot. Plan a long hike. In order to really get in touch with nature, you have to get rid of the “unnatural” in your life, even if only for one afternoon a week. Head out to the woods, a farm, a beach, or a mountain and just BE. No books, no magazines and of course no on/off button. This mental “slow down” is a huge investment you can make in yourself. You need to connect with Mother Nature as much as possible in order to stay grounded and at peace with yourself.
MAKE GOOD FOOD CHOICES
The food that we choose to eat affects more than just our bodies. The lives of the farmers and workers who produce the food, the soil and water that grow the food and the plant, animal and microbial life of the farm are all affected. When we prioritize high quality, sustainably produced ingredients, we are showing our respect for the Earth and its resources. When we choose to buy products in season, particularly from local producers, we honor the cycle of the seasons and the people who nurture our food. Try shopping at your local farmer’s market or food co-op. If you live in a place that doesn’t have easy access to local foods, try planting a small garden with some of your favorite herbs or vegetables. You might be surprised to find how much more connected you feel to the natural world while preparing a fresh tomato salad, made from sun ripe tomatoes you just plucked.
CHOOSE NATURAL WAYS TO CLEAN YOUR BODY AND HOME
Our bodies absorb things internally and externally. The chemicals that we come into contact with can seep into our bodies through our skin, making it vitally important to carefully consider the products you use in your home. It is amazing how much cleaning can be accomplished with simple products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. You might also be interested in caring for your body with things like almond oil or coconut oil, which are nourishing to the body, without containing additives or chemicals. You can add essential oils to both body and surface cleaners to make your home and yourself smell fantastic.
DEVELOP YOUR SPIRITUAL SIDE
Learning to be aware of your thoughts and actions help maintain a healthy attitude and a sense of truthfulness to your spirit. Pursuing passions in your spare time, especially ones that are physical or involve the arts will balance your mental, physical and spiritual sides – and keep your body in harmony with your thoughts. Be open, be truthful and learn to focus on doing what really makes you feel good!
STAY HOME MORE
This may seem like a weird item for our Natural Lifestyle list…but it doesn’t get much simpler or more natural than this. Stay home more. You’ll save money, your vehicles will last longer…and joy of joys…you may not feel so worn out all the time! When you spend more time at home, you’ll find that you are more rested and more relaxed…naturally.
And when you feel the need to get away, choose Elephant Plains Game Lodge. A place where you will become more in touch with nature through wonderful game viewing and bush walks. And while you’re here, come and have a relaxing treatment at the African Health Spa!
Stretch marks (known as Stria in dermatology) are a form of scarring on the skin. Stretch marks appear as linear streaks on parts of the skin that has been overstretched. They begin as flat, red lines and over time they appear as slightly depressed, white or silvery streaks. Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin. The elastic fibers of the dermis are damaged, accompanied by inflammation, which results in the forming of scars.
Stretch marks are caused by rapid and excessive increase in body mass and also during pregnancy, when the belly expands. They may also be influenced by excessive use of steroids, body building and hormonal changes, associated with puberty and hormone replacement therapy. Genetics can also play a role in the occurrence stretch marks
Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to emerge where larger amounts of fat are stored such as the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, back, thighs, hips and buttocks.
When stretch marks show up, it is best to treat them as early as possible – when they are still red or purple. Once stretch marks have passed to the later stages (where they become white or silvery), they are much more challenging to treat.
It is vital to moisturize! Skin becomes more pliable and supple and therefore better able to stretch, when it is hydrated. Moisturize 3 to 4 times a day with products that contain cocoa or shea butter.
There are many products that claim to repair stretch marks, but only a few of them work effectively.
Here is a list of products that are available for stretch marks:
• Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid. It works on stretch marks by boosting collagen production.
• Wheat germ oil: Research has shown that wheat germ oil helps improve stretch marks in their early phase.
• Vitamin C: Certain formulations of vitamin C may increase collagen production and may help during the early stages of stretch marks. For the most effective results, combine with glycolic acid. Vitamin C supplements may also be effective.
Other treatments available to improve the appearance of existing stretch marks include laser treatments and dermabrasion. But as with all things, prevention is better than cure, so keep your skin moisturized and try to avoid excessive weight gain.
I hope that you have found this article informative. Look out for next month’s article: pigmentation.
In South Africa the sun is shining a little longer every day, telling you that it’s time to get ready for summer holidays, activities with family and friends and of course, swimsuit season. Some of us have gained a few extra kilograms over the winter; we’ve gotten out of shape, maybe lost our summer tan. Here are some useful tips that you can follow to look and feel great this season.
Yes, that means EXERCISE! We all have busy schedules, but just 40 minutes 2-3 times a week, alternating between cardio and weights are enough to stay fit and healthy. You don’t have to spend money on a gym membership or personal trainer. Walking/running around the block, swimming, or even gardening are just as effective, and don’t cost a cent! Not only does exercise help control your weight, it also improves your mood, boosts energy levels and combats health conditions and diseases.
That’s what it says. Diets can actually slow down your metabolism, which in turn will cause you to gain even more weight. When you lose weight by dieting alone, you also lose muscle mass. Instead, eat at least five to six small, healthy meals a day and include a lot of fibre in your diet. This will help your body burn fat most efficiently.
Drinking water helps flush your system and as a bonus, it gets rid of excess salt and water weight, which keeps you from feeling bloated. Drink water regularly to avoid being dehydrated, as this can sap your energy levels, making you feel tired and dizzy.
Make sure to exfoliate regularly. Exfoliating gets rid of dead, rough skin cells- leaving your skin feeling soft and glowing! Make sure to stay moisturized – as summer weather can dry your skin, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun. Wear sunscreen everyday! A broad-spectrum SPF 15-30 is fine on a regular day. Apply to ALL areas that will be exposed to the sun and re-apply every 2 hours, or after a swim. Tan responsibly! Avoid the sun during peak hours (10am-2pm). Apply a moisturizer every time after sun tanning- this will keep your skin soft and your tan will also last longer.
Repeated exposure to elements during the summer months can dry and damage your hair and its colour. Take precautions before you head outdoors- hats are great for offering protection and they can be fashionable as well. Hair needs to be treated more gently during the summer. Consider switching to a moisturizing, overall gentle shampoo. Give your hair a break from blowouts and embrace summer’s casual braids, ponytails and buns.
Whatever you choose to do this summer season, REMEMBER to look after your body and to have fun!!!
Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the hands, feet or ears. Reflexologists claim that a system of zones and reflex areas exist, reflecting an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the principle that work on these areas effects a physical change to the body. Through the application of pressure on these reflex zones, without the use of tools, creams or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology reduces stress, relieves tension, improves circulation and the immune system and also helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.
To represent how the body systems correspond to one another, reflexologists use reflexology “maps.” A good example of a reflexology map exists for the feet. Each foot represents a vertical half of the body:
• The left foot corresponds to the left side of the body and all organs, valves, etc. found there.
• The right foot corresponds to the right side of the body and all organs found there. For example, the liver is on the right side of the body, and therefore the corresponding reflex area is on the right foot.
A reflexologist may perform a general, integrated session, or may focus on specific problem areas on the feet, hands or ears. For example, if time is limited and the person really needs to relax, the reflexologist may choose just to work on the ears. When points are found to be tender to pressure, they are worked upon for longer periods, in order to stimulate such an area. Whatever the approach, the reflexologist attempts to release congestion or stress in the nervous system and balance the body’s energy. The normal time it will take a practitioner to work on both feet would be an hour, but that would also depend on what is done for the client. A detailed medical history should be recorded during the first reflexology session.
When the reflexologist works on the feet, the sensations range from the feeling that something sharp is being pressed into the foot, to a dull ache, discomfort, tightness or just firm pressure. Sensitivity varies from person to person and also from treatment to treatment. As the treatment progresses, the tenderness should diminish as balance is restored in the problem areas. One body part is completed totally before moving on and both feet are treated alternatively in a smooth and even way. No matter what the sensations are like, Reflexology is always effective and should leave the client feeling light, tingly and pampered.
Reactions to a Reflexology treatment can differ…
People differ and so do reactions to a Reflexology treatment. On a whole, reactions immediately after a treatment are pleasant, leaving the clients relaxed, energised and rejuvenated. Reflexology activates the body’s own healing power and some form of a “bad” reaction is inevitable as the body rids itself of toxins. This is referred to as a “healing crisis” and forms part of the cleansing process. The response of toxins being released can manifest itself as increased darker and stronger-smelling urination, flatulence and more frequent bowel movements, aggravated skin conditions, increased mucous secretions, disrupted sleep patterns, dizziness, nausea, tiredness and headaches. Some clients may also become emotional and could have an overwhelming desire to weep.
Reflexologists never diagnose diseases, prescribe or adjust medication. They do not treat specific diseases, although by bringing the body back to a state of balance, Reflexology helps to eliminate problems caused by disease. Tender reflexes indicate which parts of the body are congested. It is important to be aware that this “diagnosis” merely indicates which parts of the body are congested, not specifically named disorders.
We offer reflexology treatments here at the African Health Spa. so do yourself a favour and book a treatment when you visit us in the bush!