A few weeks back we had the opportunity to ask Dr. Aparna our Burning Summer Skincare Questions. Though I was expecting only SPF and tan related questions we ended up getting questions on several other skin issues as well. I am not very sure about the complexity of the issues on which questions were submitted but I want to add a disclaimer stating that neither AIMB nor I am in any way responsible for the answers in this post and any treatment advised. In other words, reader discretion is advised. Skin issues are complicated and must be addressed with the same care and concern as any other health issue. Please visit your dermatologist and take his advise before trying out a OTC treatment or any any other home made treatments.

Okay so now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, lets get to the questions. All great questions. I learnt a lot from all this and question #6 in particular is one I would advice everybody to take a look at.

Big Thanks to Dr. Aparna for taking time out to answer all our skincare questions.

1. I have a question on hyperpigmentation...well melasma. My mother has a serious case of melasma and we have tried many things to remove it and no help. Also she has medium dark skin and is very sensitive. She burned when she was using the sensitive kit from PCA for hyperpigmentation. Are there any home care, over the counter things she can use ?

Melasma has multiple causes and the level of pigmentation can be deep, superficial or mixed. Most of the over the counter kits contain stronger percentage of Glycolic Acid which tends to irritate and peel the skin. If your mother has sensitive skin, then she should not be using the over the counter kits.

2. I never used to use sunscreen because they all either burned, were sticky on the face, or caused me to sweat like crazy and rolled off my skin looking like a greasy mess. I have combination skin. I can see the hyperpigmentation on my face as a result of not wearing sunscreen. Right now I'm using bare escentuals spf 30 powdered sunscreen. I have a question on the effectiveness of powdered brush on sunscreens. Also, Is there any effective liquid or other type sunscreens you can recommend for sensitive skin. I'm also very fair, is spf 30 good or should we use more ? – Crissy

Using sunscreen is essential and SPF 30 sunscreen is good enough to use. The important thing is to have full coverage on face and neck. I am not in the favour of using powdered sunscreens as absorption of it is a problem. You can use lighter lotion based sunscreens of SPF 15 and top it with a powdered sunscreen of SPF 15. This will give you enough protection and at the same time will take away the stickiness.

3. I have a question regarding my hands. I have medium color skin. My right hand seems to be darker, i see more lines in them than my left hand but both are dark in the joints around the fingers. I've been told it is because of cracking my fingers so often, is that true or is it from the sun or a combination of both? And are there any lotions or creams that may help even them out? –N

Darker joints are not because of cracking in fingers. It is just a racial feature usually found in Indian/ asian skin having darker skin around the joints. Your right hand may be more sunexposed,hence, may be a little darker than your left hand. You need to use a sunscreen and moisturizer on your hands. Skin is thinner on the hands and hence, is also subject to aging faster due to lack of moisture. Using a moisturizer will help. For pigmentation you can consult a dermatologist who can assess the level of pigmentation and recommend the further course of action.

4. I have question about hyperpigmentation as well. I have dark spots around my mouth that get worse during the summer. I always use sunscreen/exfoliate and i've tried lemon juice, paulas choice lightening gel, tumeric, hydroquinone, the body shops moisture white cream, ddf's holistic lightening gel, and the whole line of Shiseido White Lucent products. basically, I've tried everything and spent alot of money on fixing this issue. can you please recommend something that won't cause damage to my skin (meaning not harsh).

You have tried a lot over the counter products. Going by your history, you seem to have photopigmentation. Peri-oral pigmentation is general y accompanied by peri-oral dermatitis (which you may not have noticed). I would advise you see an expert and avoid using over the counter products yourself as some of them can even cause rebound pigmentation.

5. Is it important to put sun protection on your scalp and hair as well? if so, how do you do it? and is there a way of getting rid of dark tan lines around the neck and legs (which are obvious when you wear t-shirts with wider necks, or flip flops)?
thanks! – Kriti

Using sunscreen on your scalp is not important unless you are bald. For hair you can use a good serum or a conditioner. If you have long hair, you can use a scarf or tie them. Cover your hair with a swimming cap when you go swimming. After swimming, don’t forget to have a bath and wash your hair. For dark tan lines around the neck and legs I would advise you to use a sunscreen.

6. What is the difference between the different rating systems like SPF, PA pluses and the stars? How is SPF measured? I saw a sunscreen in the drug store with SPF 90, what does that mean? Plus I'm confused because I keep hearing people need to apply 1 oz of sunscreen on the body and 1 table spoon on the face and that we need to reapply after a few hours is that true or do they just want us to waste product?

SPF is a measure of UV B protection. It is a well accepted measure. PA pulse and Stars are a measure of UV A protection and they are not so widely accepted. Stars are usually used in America in Over the counter sunscreens. Single Star represents – Low protection, 2 stars represents Medium Protection, 3 stars represent high protection. Sunscreens mentioning broad spectrum or dual protection offer protection against both UV A and UV B rays. SPF is a ratio of how soon the skin will burn with sunscreen as opposed to without sunscreen. SPF measurement is done in laboratories wherein sunscreen is applied in a patch on the back and is then subject to UV B radiation.

SPF 15 sunscreen gives 90% protection against sun burns for 4 hrs. Any thing higher than this gives just incremental protection. E.g. SPF 30 gives 92% protection against sunburns for 4 hrs. It is correct that you need to apply 1 oz of sunscreen on the body and 1 table spoon on the face and yes, you need to reapply sunscreen every 4 hrs. Incase, you are outdoors, you need to reapply every 1 hr

7. What I can do in the summer to protect my skin against keratosis-pilaris like bumps (I find that it gets much worse in the summer - probably due to sweat, BUT I don't sweat that much at all!!). What products (besides those containing hyaluronic acid) can be used? Do you have any recommendations for natural products like turmeric etc ? - Purnima

It is very useful to use products containing salicylic aid or glycolic acid. At home, you can use turmeric or sandalwood.

8. I am a 27 year old female and I have a medium brown skin but I have 2 shades of brown in my body. My face is darker than my neck and below. This is only because of the tan that I have acquired during my long years in India and now that I have moved to the US, I want to remove the excess tan on my face so that I look more even toned. Please help. I would prefer more of home remedies. - Ria

You have got pigmentation. I would not recommend any home remedies for that. Use sunscreen regularly, the pigmentation would go in 2-3 months. If you want quicker results, you can get Microdermabrasion or Glycolic peels done.

9. My name is Jessica Somrajit by the way. My question is, what is the best way to get rid of dark spots caused by acne?

Retenoic Acid based creams prescribed by dermatologists can help get rid of dark spots caused by acne. Occasionally, Benzoyl Peroxide / Glycolic Acid based creams can also help. Best is to consult a dermatologist to know the course best suited for you.

10. My skin isn't that dark though, more on the tan, olive side which leads me to my question about hyperpigmentation (which is kind of embarassing): even when I remove the hair on my upper lip, there is still a bit of a dark shadow cast. It's not too dark but how can I fade it? I've tried OTC fade creams hydroquinone but I think it made it worse. I also have dark spots in my armpit even when the hair is removed, any suggestions on how to get those to go away? I'm desperate – Tatiana

Pigments are strong where there is hair especially those with complexion on the darker side. I would not recommend OTC products as they may cause rebound pigmentation. I would advise you visit a dermatologist and get the level of pigmentation assessed and embark on the program as suggested.

11. What is the best way to treat a cuticle infection ? The skin around my nails have been sensitive for a while and they hurt sometimes. I believe this is a cuticle infection. Could you recommend some home made remedies or Over the counter creams that I can use ?

The infection can be either bacterial or fungal. I would not recommend any home remedies/ OTC products. It is best to go to the doctor to get the infection diagnosed and take the right treatment.

Indian Girl


Anonymous said... @ July 28, 2009 at 11:03 PM

It seems like a lot the Doctor's responses were to visit a doctor or even a dermatologist - there didnt seem to be any real advice other than that.

An Indian's Makeup Blog ! said... @ July 28, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Hi Anon !

I am guessing that is probably coz the issues are complicated and need to be diagnosed properly before a treatment could be prescribed. Also there probably are other conditions one must check for before prescribing a treatment. I am glad the doctor most often has given us some insight / background on why one must visit the doc for each of those conditions instead of just saying go visit doc !

Rima Kaur said... @ July 28, 2009 at 11:37 PM

well i disagree with anonymous! look at the answers the doctor gave! they are very nicely explained and the 6th question is so detailed!

Dani' said... @ July 29, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Thanks for the Q & A! I was searching about one of these very things today. Melasma. I have what looks like a dark line starting above my top lip and it is NOT hair! I have Sicilian on my mom's side and have a light but very yellow/olive toned complexion. Good to see I am not alone with this problem!

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