clinical dermatology

Gene Expression Profile Analysis and Identification of the Effects Triggered by Essential Sandalwood Oil on Human Skin Explants

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Sandalwood oil is an essential oil obtained from the tree wood of various species of Santalum spp by steam distillation and has a history of medicinal use besides as a fragrance. However, the mechanisms involved in its activity are still unclear. In the present report, Sandalwood oil (S. album) was applied to living human skin explants to evaluate the sustained activity of the oil through gene expression profiling. Transcriptomic analysis showed a number of metabolic pathways and biological activities triggered by treatments previously described for aloe, curcumin and luteolin. No inflammatory responses accompanied the beneficial activities. The most intriguing impact was the natural effect of the retinoic acid (vitamin A) metabolism.

Furthermore, we found that mechanisms normally acting in more specialized cell types such as immune cells, adipocytes, nerve cells, or hair follicles were activated in human skin explants in response to sandalwood oil. Thus, the oil may have the potential of further beneficial activities such as its antibacterial activity among other protective mechanisms.

These results corroborate at a molecular level the rationale for clinical studies with sandalwood oil and support recent studies of patients with eczema (atopic dermatitis) or acne, which is often accompanied by bacterial growth on the skin of Propionibacterium acnes.




Skin Cancer on the Rise

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The researchers report that, between 2000 and 2010, squamous cell carcinoma (also called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma) diagnoses increased 263 percent, and basal cell carcinomas increased 145 percent. They compared the 2000-2010 period to two other segments of time: 1976-1984 and 1985-1992.

Women 30-49 experienced the greatest increase in basal cell carcinoma diagnoses; whereas, women 40-59 and 70-79 experienced the greatest increase in squamous cell carcinomas.

Men had an increase in squamous cell carcinomas between the first and second time period studied (1976-1984 and 1985-1992), but experienced a slight decline in the 2000-2010 period. However, for basal cell carcinomas, men over 29 showed similar increases in diagnoses in the 2000-2010 period than the two earlier periods.


Radiation dermatitis

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Irritant contact dermatitis accounts for 80% of all contact dermatitis reactions. It occurs when the skin comes in contact with a substance that acts as an irritant. Even though over 2800 substances have been identified as irritants, almost any substance under the right circumstances can act as an irritant.

Skin Barrier in Irritant Contact Dermatitis
The epidermis acts as a barrier with an outer layer composed of dead cells in a water-protein-lipid matrix.

Acute Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Acute irritant contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with a strong toxic chemical such as an acid or alkali. The rash occurs within minutes to hours after exposure and in most cases, healing occurs soon after exposure. This rash usually has sharp borders and consists of redness, vesicles, bullae, or skin sloughing.

  • Picture of irritant contact dermatitis on the foot

Chronic Cumulative Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Chronic cumulative irritant contact dermatitis is the more common of the two. This dermatitis occurs after repeated exposure to low-level irritants, such as soaps or shampoos. The rash may take weeks, months, or even years to develop.

The rash usually has poorly-defined borders, is very itchy, and consists of redness, scaling, fissuring, and lichenification.

  • Picture of irritant contact dermatitis on the hand

Treatment of Irritant Contact Dermatitis
The mainstay of treatment for irritant contact dermatitis is avoiding as many of the irritants as possible.

Other helpful measures include:

  • Reduce water exposure – because frequent water exposure actually dries out the skin and disrupts the barrier function of the epidermis, keep water contact to a minimum.
  • Moisturize – Frequent moisturization improves the barrier function of the skin. Avoid the use of moisturizers with perfumes since these may also act as an irritant.
  • Protection – Because the hands are often affected by irritant contact dermatitis, the use of gloves may help reduce exposure to the irritant.
  • Topical steroids – Medium- to high-strength topical steroids may be needed to reduce inflammation and itching.

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