Luck Of The Irish?
Date Published: March 7th, 2018
Welcome to March! We’re looking forward to longer days, blooming flowers, March Madness basketball brackets, and one of my favorite holidays…St. Patrick’s Day! I can only claim a 4th great-grandmother (shout out to Isobel Phoebe O’Connor of County Cork), but I love the color green, music, and any celebration that involves beer.
In contemplating Irish dermatology connections, a few things immediately spring (ha!) to mind.
Our classification for describing skin types is known as the Fitzpatrick scale, developed in 1975 by Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, Chairman of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. If you would like to know your skin type, please take the Skin Cancer Foundation “Where Does Your Skin Fit In?” quiz.
Dr. Fitzpatrick’s research centered on ultraviolet including sun and medical UV, skin pigmentation, and melanoma. He is often referred to as the father of modern academic dermatology and you will find his textbooks used in our office.
If you were blessed with Irish heritage and Fitzpatrick type 1 skin, you carry the highest risk for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Strict sun protection and regular skin exams are especially important for you. Find a daily moisturizer of SPF 30+ and commit to using it. Don’t make us send the leprechauns after you!
Another skin issue that unfairly affects the Irish is rosacea, sometimes called acne rosacea or “curse of the Celts”. Perhaps more accurately termed “curse of the Vikings”, as they are responsible for the red hair gene. Rosacea manifests as easy flushing/blushing of facial skin, red bumps across the cheeks and nose, and sometimes eye irritation.
Happily, we now have some new medications in the rosacea toolbox. Topical vasoconstrictors such as Mirvaso and Rhofade, and an anti-inflammatory cream like Soolantra have proven effective for many patients. Our Cutera laser is another great option to treat dilated facial blood vessels.
Fair skin has a tendency to be more sensitive, a critical consideration when choosing topical products. One of our new sunscreens is a particular favorite, Elta Elements. It offers a high SPF and contains only physical sunscreens, zinc and titanium dioxide, which are both effective and less likely to cause irritation.
Wishing you a happy & healthy St. Patrick’s Day!