Skin

  1. Eczema creams can contain hidden allergens

    Dry skin? Watch out for this!

    Got an itch?

    You know you're not supposed to scratch it. But you also can't avoid scratching it, because it's driving you nuts!

    And, sure enough, when you do, it gets worse.

    For 30 million Americans, those itches aren't just a minor a nuisance that come and go. They're part of the everyday reality of living with eczema and similar skin conditions.

    If you have one of these conditions yourself, or if you just dry up easily in the autumn weather, you probably buy moisturizer by the gallon.

    And if you're like many people, you've probably found that you can practically baste yourself in the stuff at times and not get a whole heck of a lot of relief.

    Now, the latest research shows why moisturizer often doesn't work well... or, in some cases, can even make your skin worse.

    It comes down to a simple marketing scam.

    All those packaging buzzwords like "hypoallergenic," "fragrance-free," "paraben-free," and "all natural" are about as meaningful as a campaign promise, as a new analysis of moisturizers finds that most of the brands that make those claims DON'T deliver on those promises.

    Just 17 percent of "hypoallergenic" skin creams were actually hypoallergenic.

    The rest -- a stunning 83 percent, or more than 4 out of 5 -- contained at least one ingredient known to trigger allergic reactions in some people.

    Even "fragrance-free" has become a meaningless label: Nearly half of the products to make that claim had at least one ingredient considered to be a fragrance.

    Once you match all the claims to the lab analysis, just 12 percent of the 174 common moisturizers tested were actually free of all forms of potential allergens.

    This isn't just a matter of lying on the label. It's also stealing cash out of your wallet, because the study finds each of those buzzwords leads to a price hike.

    The ones that say "dermatologist recommended" -- often the same ones that claim to be "hypoallergenic" and/or "fragrance-free" -- cost 35 percent more than products without that label claim.

    Don't worry, I'm not about to leave you high and dry. That'll only make your skin worse.

    The study finds one common skin cream that often does deliver on the promise of being allergen-free: plain old shea butter.

    The key is to make sure you're getting the real deal. You don't want something "made with" shea butter... or something that's even mostly shea butter.

    You want shea butter, pure and raw -- and ideally organic.

    It'll cost a little more than a giant pump bottle of cheap moisturizer, but at least you'll get what you pay for.

  2. New moles are overlooked melanoma risk factor

    Spot melanoma in 3 easy ways

    It's one of the nation's DEADLIEST cancers -- and unlike many other forms of the disease, this one is on the rise.

    But you don't have to die of melanoma. This cancer is easy to spot, treat, cure, and beat.

    So why does melanoma claim nearly 200 lives every single week? Because many people still don't know what to look for!

    It's a lot harder than it seems -- and new research shows how the main warning sign most folks watch for isn't actually the biggest risk factor for melanoma.

    And that means even if you keep careful watch on your skin, you could MISS the warning signs of this deadly disease!

    If you know anything about watching for melanoma, you know about keeping an eye on your moles. Changes in moles, especially to their size and shape, are a key warning sign of skin cancer.

    But the new study shows how most cases of melanoma don't spring from those existing moles.

    The much bigger risk factor is a NEW mole that appears out of the blue!

    More than 70 percent of melanoma cases are from new moles, according to the study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

    You might think that makes your job even simpler: Just watch for new moles, right?

    While that's true, it's far from simple. Many people don't spot new moles early, especially if they already have a few. Throw in some freckles and other common skin marks, and what's one new little dot mixed in among all the others?

    But that's exactly what you need to look for, as the study finds these new moles are not only more likely to become melanoma... but also tend to be "thicker," which makes them more dangerous and tougher to treat.

    You don't have to face any of those risks. I've got three simple steps that can help prevent melanoma.

    First, keep watching those old moles since they still pose a risk. Second, study your skin, and take photos if having those images will help you.

    Whether it's an old mole changing or a new one appearing, the key to spotting melanoma is as simple as "ABCDE":

    • A means asymmetrical, when one side looks different from the other.
    • B is for the border, which can be irregular instead of a circle.
    • C is for the color, especially different or changing shades.
    • D is the diameter, with bigger moles posing bigger risks.
    • E is for evolution, or changes over time.

    That leads me to Step 3. Don't wait until you spot a problem to visit a dermatologist.

    Get checked out regularly -- especially if you're at risk for skin cancer, as a doctor can help spot a newer mole in time to get you treated.

  3. Tomatoes reduce risk of skin cancer

    Slash your risk of skin cancer in half with THIS It's far and away the most common form of cancer in the country, something up to half of all Americans will battle at some point. Because it's usually not deadly, it doesn't get nearly as much attention as the rest. But make no mistake about it: Non-melanoma skin cancer can...

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