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What is Ichthyosis?

The name might bring images of extinct sea creatures that look more horrifying than sharks, but ichthyosis is a name for a group of skin diseases that is characterized by thick, dry, and scaly skin which make the affected person look like a fish. It is a disfiguring disease that results in the isolation of the victim, because it is a condition that is misunderstood by so many. A study in 2012, however, showed that 200 to 400 cases of moderate to severe types of ichthyosis in Singapore are reported annually.

Types and Symptoms of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis can be acquired or inherited, the former usually resulting from malignant, inflammatory or hormonal diseases. Some doctors, however, cannot point the exact cause of acquired ichthyosis. Inherited ichthyosis is known to occur if there are mutations in more than 40 genes that are associated with the disease. Genetic ichthyosis will often show symptoms at birth and will affect the person for the rest of his/her life.

The symptoms of this disorder of cornification vary in every form, but the patients all suffer from dry and scaly skin, blistering, redness, skin shedding, pain or itching, and overheating. There are 22 types of ichthyosis that have been studied so far, with the inherited type usually altering the skin cells called keratinocytes found in the outer skin layer or stratum corneum. The 22 types of ichthyosis are grouped into 3; common, autosomal recessive congenital, and keratinopathic ichthyosis.

Common Ichthyoses:
1. Ichthyosis vulgaris
2. Recessive X-linked ichthyosis STS

Autosomal Recessive Congenital Ichthyoses:
1. Lamellar ichthyosis TGM1 and Others
2. Harlequin ichthyosis ABCA12
3. Congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma ALOXE3 and Others

Keratinopathic Ichthyoses:
1. Epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT1 and KRT10
2. Superficial epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT2
3. Ichthyosis Curth-Macklin KRT1
4. Congenital reticular ichthyosiform erythroderma

Other types of ichthyosis include, Collodion baby; Darier disease; epidermal nevus; erythrokeratodermia variabilis; keratitis- ichthyosis-deafness; Netherton syndrome; Pachyonychia congenital; palmoplantar keratodermas; Sjorgen-Larsson syndrome; Chanarin Dorfman syndrome; CHILD syndrome; Conradi-Hunermann; ichthyosis hystrix with deafness syndrome; Refsum disease; and trichothiodystrophy.

Treatments of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is diagnosed using prenatal testing for inherited ichthyosis, blood tests, and biopsy. Prenatal testing is recommended for parents who suspect that their baby might inherit the disease. The test will determine the levels of plasma cholesterol sulfate and confirm the absence in fibroblasts of steroid sulphatase. The blood tests and biopsy on the other hand will reveal the thickening in the stratum corneum, degeneration of suprabasal keratinocytes, and the absence of the filaggrin and granular cell layer.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ichthyosis to date, and the treatments focus on easing the symptoms experienced by the patient such as the use of ointments, creams and lotions. The affected person is advised to bathe in salt water or urea or salicylic acid to reduce the scaling, and to take retinoids or keratolytics if the symptoms are severe.

Infants born with the disease are closely monitored to avoid infection, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, flexibility, skin fragility, and ocular complications.


European Lifestyle May Reduce Depression Risk

We have already heard from fitness experts and sources that Mediterranean diet (a.k.a veggies, fruits, whole-wheat pasta, chicken, fish diet) is known to bring great health benefits. But a study conducted in Spain takes its known advantages up a notch. The findings suggest that correspondents with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, specifically obeying the way of living of people from countries like Italy, France, Greece and Spain lowered their risk of getting depression to 50% compared to those with lowest adherence. In short, Mediterranean lifestyle may also bring psychological benefits.

This Mediterranean lifestyle is composed of three (3) parts: Exposure to the well-known diet, physical activity and time spent with friends/family (socialization). Researchers ran and followed up the study for more than eight (8) years by the help of almost 12,000 university graduates. It turned out those participants who combined the three essential components had lower depression risks.

Although previous researches have shown the relationship of healthy diet and risk depressions, this recent study is the first to delve deeper on the association of overall, specifically Mediterranean lifestyle and depression itself. Researchers did not draw conclusion on the exact reasons why a balanced combination of physical activity, socializing and eating healthy diet is related to lower depression risk but according to Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, the lead study author and professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, certain ingredients in the Mediterranean diet such as fruit, olive oil and legumes have anti-inflammatory components which may be of use in inflammation prevention—which has been linked to depression in the past.

Exercising or physical activities have been previously linked by experts to help reduce anxiety and depression because during workout, our bodies release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Lastly, social interactions according to the study researchers comes with better psychological health—suggested mechanisms such as having social support during hard times may backup this correlation.

For Asians, a Mediterranean diet may not be widely practiced but for beginners, a Mediterranean-Asian meal plan would be a good starting point. According to an article contributed by Brittany, a healthy living blogger on skinnyfitalicious.com, Mediterranean and Asian foods are rich in taste and normally provide nutrients the body needs. Ingredients from both cultures can be infused to one healthy and tasty recipe for example, combination of fish and rice, olive oil and veggies etc.

Recipe books featuring Mediterranean pyramid and 100 recipes from 25 European countries are available online like the ones found in Kinokuniya Singapore. Either diet can be unhealthy (for example, fusion of tempura fish or vodka) but what matters is the principle of these diets that drive the real benefits, one of which is to take a minute to savor and enjoy the tasteful flavors because the value it bring is not only within the confines of nutrition but also for the mind as well.


Finally Busting Allergy Myths

 

Allergies come in different forms and depending on your body’s immune response, you will encounter different forms as you go along. Maybe you haven’t discovered your allergy yet but this is not the time to relax and ignore facts about allergies. Forget about the myths and try to remember the facts. This article will finally bust most allergy myths so you will be informed better.

Before anything else, it will be a good help if you know what an allergy is. Allergy is actually a condition that can damage a person’s immune response to a particular substance. You have to remember that it varies. You may be allergic to pollen but your sister is not. You can be allergic to cats and dogs but your neighbour is not.

It is crucial that you clear your misunderstanding of allergies. There are many allergy doctors here in Singapore that you can consult if there is a need. Here are some common myths of allergies and its truth:

You will get allergies from furs of your pet

All your life you believe that you are only allergic to the fur of the pet but in fact the culprits are their body proteins, dander and skin – not entirely their fur. The best thing to avoid this is to keep the pets outdoors and if it cannot be helped, at least isolate your bedroom from common areas. You can also secure HEPA filters to safeguard the air around you.

You get allergies from plants around your house

Many people blame plants for their allergies. As a result they cut the plant or tree for bringing such discomfort. This is a myth because even if you cut a plant or tree down, pollens can travel thousands of miles depending on wind current. One best way to avoid this is to schedule outdoor activities early morning or evening because at these times, winds are not that strong.

You get allergies from feathers of your pillow

When you lie down and you begin to sneeze and feel weird, you instantly blame it on the feathers of your pillow when it fact your bed has many allergens that accumulate like mold and dust mites. You have to know that feathered pillows underwent thorough heat washing process – which eliminates protein that can cause such discomfort or problem.

These are just some myths that you should bust as it can affect your life in general. Believing something that is not that accurate is a waste of time and resources. You have to know because it can make a difference at the end of the day.


Hands Off: The Dirtiest Equipment on the Gym

Attending the gym has its perks without a doubt but sometimes we have to be careful because there are some dangers lurking around. These dangers are sometimes unnoticeable which makes it more threatening when we think about it. You should know that gyms are sort of gross. Yes, you read it right.

Gyms here in Singapore are clean especially for exclusive clubs but what about ordinary gyms? Ordinary gyms are overcrowded, hot and smell sweat. You go to gym not for the ambiance but for working out. However, you have to be particular of what you hold because lots of equipment hoards harmful bacteria.

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FitRated conducted a research recently and discovered some things worth your attention. FitRated is a review site for gym equipment. It visited myriad of gyms and swabbed bacteria samples from twenty seven different gym facilities. The study revealed disturbing facts that is why it is crucial that you read it and share it to your fellow.

The swapped samples contain negative rods, positive rods, positive cocci and bacillus. The quantifier is Colony-forming Unit (CFU). CFU is used to estimate the bacteria or fungal cells for example. According to the study, here are some of the dirtiest gym equipment:

  • Exercise bike: An exercise bike contains about 1,333,418 CFU. When loosely translated it has thirty nine times more bacteria that your usual plastic reusable tray in the cafeteria. The tray by the way has 33,800 CFU.

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  • Free weights: The next dirtiest equipment is free weights. It has about 1,158,381 CFU. When loosely translated it has three hundred sixty two times more bacteria than your toilet seat. Toilet seat by the way has 3,200 CFU.

 

  • Treadmill: Treadmill is also dirty equipment with 1,333,432 CFU. When loosely translated it has seventy four times more bacteria than your ordinary faucet. Your ordinary faucet by the way has 18,000 CFU.

Now that you have a clear picture of equipment with the most bacteria, it is time to do something. Do not just ignore this equipment because these are also important. The best that you can do is to always remember sanitizing. After hitting the gym, never touch anything unless your hands are clean.

So, the next time you hit the gym, do not forget to bring your sanitizer and share the information to your friends. This is alarming and disturbing thinking that you cannot see it but it can cause serious illness at the end of the day.

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Fun Facts about Coconut Water

Sometimes, drinking water can be a little bland and boring. Instead of going for juices and sodas, a healthy and tastier alternative is coconut water. Dubbed as the ultimate quencher of thirst, coconut water is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients.

Still a bit clueless about coco water, read on to learn more interesting facts about this wonder drink.

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It comes from young coconuts.

The sweet and clear water from coconuts come from the younger green coconut variety. A young coconut may contain about 200 to 1,000 milliliters of water, depending on the size of the coconut fruit.

The perfect age of coconuts to harvest water from is about six months old. Younger coconuts have water that is slightly bitter. Older than six months, the fruit contains less water.

 

Coconut water boosts weight loss.

If you’re striving to lose weight, coconut water may be the missing link to your healthy diet. Coco water is very low in calories and fat but is also a treasure of essential nutrients needed for energy. If you’re on a strict diet, coconut water is also a good appetite suppressor, giving you the feeling of being full.

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Coco water is good for the skin.

Coconut water is not only for drinking. It can also be used as a natural remedy for skin problems like acne and uneven skin tone. It is also an excellent skin moisturizer, making the skin soft and supple. In fact, coconut water is a key ingredient in many skin care products and cosmetics.

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