Skin ish Mom Column

Facts about Our Skin (vs Children vs Eczema Skin)

For these 8 weeks, we’re going ‘intensive’ into skin facts. Many articles have shared about adult skin facts, but in #SkinishMom style, we’re ‘digging’ deeper into children’s skin and eczema skin. (Note: all skin facts have published data for children and eczema skin)

Skin facts - Adult, Children and Eczema Skin
Some ‘Skin Investigation’ may turn up with unexpected facts!

Skin Fact #1 Skin is (NOT!) the largest organ in the body

Oops, doesn’t everyone say that skin is the largest organ? That’s why some ‘skin’ investigation is required for ‘skin journalism’. Located a letter to editor in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology that skin is not the largest organ in the body. The skin can be considered the largest BY WEIGHT for ‘medium-sized’ organs, excluding musculoskeletal system.

  • Skin (epidermis and dermis) weights 3.86kg, about 5.5% of a 70kg man
  • Subcutaneous tissue (layer of fats under the dermis layer) is not consider skin
  • Skin is not the largest organ by surface area, about 1.7 sqm but lung airway is 70sqm, and gastrointestinal tract is about 30-40sqm (note in the letter to editor, it’s stated as about football field, but in a paper that subsequently published in 2014 Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, scientists measured the inner surface of gastrointestinal tract of a healthy average man; previous estimates of the gastrointestinal tract were made post-mortem where the tract has relaxed to a much longer length! ‘Interesting!’)

Skin Fact #2 Adult skin sheds about 17kg to 52kg over a lifetime

From research and as explained by Dr Claudia Aguirre on Quora (Dr Claudia is a featured guest of this blog), humans shed their entire outer layer of skin every 2-4 weeks at the rate of 0.001 — 0.003 ounces of skin flakes every hour. This worked out mathematically to be 17kg to 52kg (or 37 to 115 pounds) for someone who live up to over 70 years old (I’d suppose that the 0.001 to 0.003 ounces is for an average adult, thus strictly speaking, you can’t simply multiply by 70 due to (possibly?) less skin shed for a child (by weight, but given larger surface area to volume ratio, a child may shed ‘more’ skin).

Eczema skin – Eczema skin, characterized by dry skin, shed more skin (and add the scratching!). The outer skin layer (epidermis) has four layers of keratinocytes (skin cells). The keratinocytes at the basal layer continually grow and move upwards to the stratum corneum, changing from plump cells to dead, flattened cells that are shed. This takes about 28 days. I couldn’t find research on how much skin an eczema sufferer shed, but there’re two ‘opposite’ skin conditions worth mentioning:

Exfoliative Dermatitis – characterized by extensive red skin, followed by skin shedding (similar to life-threatening conditions covered in this blog: Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Erythroderma); the skin shedding is so extensive in these conditions that it affect the normal functioning of the body, in particular temperature regulation and moisture retention, requiring care in hospital.

Psoriasis – this condition is marked by only taking 3 to 4 days to mature and does not shed but the skin cells pile up on the skin surface, forming plaques and lesions.

Many eczema sufferers reported seeing massive skin shed on the bed and floor but I wonder why the skin cells shed appear so visible (as opposed to normal skin). Found an explanation that the cells on dry skin may stick together, thickening the stratum corneum and when they are shed, it is shed as visible sheets, aka scales.

Skin Fact #3 Dead skin cells comprised an UNKNOWN part of our dust at home

This is another ‘fact’ that could turn out to be a myth – most of the sites state that our dead skin made up anywhere from 50% to 90% of our dust at home. In a study by Layton and Beamer whose study was to find out how much of contaminated soil and outdoor pollutants would get into home dust, it was estimated that about 60% would come from outdoors. Dust is very complicated, with different home, season, surrounding and the type of dust in the air and on the floor being different. It cannot be simplified to state as most of the dust are dead skin cells.

What we have to know is dead skin cells are food for house dust mites and they literally sleep with us, in our bedsheet, pillow, pillow case and mattress. Read the following posts to understand more about dust mites:

There’s sooo much more skin facts to cover, I think we’re good for discovering these till end of the year!


  1. Journal of Investigative Dermatology September 2013 ‘Letter to Editor’
  2. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology June 2014 Surface area of the digestive tract – revisited.
  3. Clinical Pharmacist September 2010 Atopic eczema: Clinical features and diagnosis
  4. Healthline: Exfoliative dermatitis
  5. Dermal Institute: the Biology behind Eczema and Psoriasis
  6. PDR Health: Dry skin
  7. Environmental Science and Technology November 2009: Migration of Contaminated Soil and Airborne Particulates to Indoor Dust
  8. Time February 2010 What’s in Household Dust? Don’t Ask
Skin ish Mom Column

Confessions of a Mom Caring for Eczema Kindergartener

Caring for any baby, your baby especially, is an unique experience. Mothers do have shared experience though, being mom and going through pregnancy, child birth and caring for a baby who goes through the development milestones. Mothers of eczema children have even more in common, as the struggles of caring for a baby who has rashes all over, experience constant discomfort and itch can only be understood by those who’ve been through them. This series by MarcieMom, are letters to you, with words of encouragement and sharing of her own parenting struggles.

Dear Daddy & Mommy,

It’s feels like our children have already grown so much! Marcie is starting grade school next year and these two years, she seems to be ‘shooting up’ – we went for a week holiday recently and everyday I marveled at her looking so big girl. When did my child grow so much? Sometimes I can be so focused on work, on this blog(!), on chores, on getting everything done that I missed looking at her. Have you looked at your child recently? These two years when her eczema has very much improved, I finally dared to kiss her more on her cheeks. One friend from Germany who visited did ask exactly that as he kissed his son so much all the time and noticed that we didn’t really kiss Marcie so much.

These two years have been so much better – evidence of which are the Nespresso machine I bought and the capsules that I’ve consumed, and the book that I co-authored and published. I’m quite scared about what Marcie starting grade school – will she get bullied? will she get laughed at as she has so many bad habits – scratching, biting fingers and peeling her skin. We never have to cut her fingernails for years and most times, I don’t even dare to look at her fingers (a task for my husband!). 

We got off co-sleeping but she still needed to be watched to remind her not to scratch at night. Given that her skin is a little tougher than baby years, we sometimes let her scratch a while to see if she would fall back asleep. It’s still frustrating to remind her not to scratch and the habitual scratching had led to some thickened skin on her feet. There’s less need to take leave to care for her as her eczema is so much more manageable and my parents are able to care for her even on our weekend marriage (church) camp.

How is your family life? Do you have a second baby? We made the decision to have an only child, partly as we didn’t feel that physically, emotionally and financially we could give a second child the same level of care – maybe we are wrong, we don’t know but I like being an ‘only mom’. I pray that if your second child won’t have eczema – some parents in the support group remarked that the second child’s eczema is worse while others say it’s less severe. We never know.. but consider taking probiotics prenatal and also in the early years, and fish oil too. 

Time seems to pass us by – and I wonder if I ought to have spent more time with Marcie, looked more at her, kissed her more and less at the rashes and the chores, and even this blog (takes lots of my free time to sustain this blog but it’s like a treasure that I store in heaven). I wonder how you feel about your parenting and how your marriage is holding up after years of caring for an eczema child. Has it got stronger or has it gotten so strained that you hardly can talk heart to heart as a couple? As I type this, Marcie is beside me and my husband in front of me, having just enjoyed a dinner at my parents’ home. We are all doing our own thing (evidently, since I’m typing this), have our own hopes and fears. Disappointment and discouragement. Today is Sunday (this post is scheduled to be published on Friday) and today’s sermon in church ended with an analogy of us building bricks and bricks of discouragement and disappointment and not seeing Jesus beyond the wall. It’s true on a certain level but I believe that the Jesus who is God and came down to live with us and die for us won’t be held back by a brick wall. I pray that the Holy Spirit in me (in all Christians) will dwell in me and show my how to lead my life – to be the mother I’m to be.

parenting eczema kindergartener

Isaiah 57:15

“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Skin ish Mom Column

Confessions of a Mom Caring for Eczema Preschooler

Caring for any baby, your baby especially, is an unique experience. Mothers do have shared experience though, being mom and going through pregnancy, child birth and caring for a baby who goes through the development milestones. Mothers of eczema children have even more in common, as the struggles of caring for a baby who has rashes all over, experience constant discomfort and itch can only be understood by those who’ve been through them. This series by MarcieMom, are letters to you, with words of encouragement and sharing of her own parenting struggles.

Dear Daddy & Mommy,

I hope your family life has got easier as your child turned 2-3 years old – I remembered this was the time when we went to Singapore Botanical Gardens for the second time to watch a free outdoor concert. At the end of the concert we were thinking ‘Wow, did we just finish watching a concert without much scratching, had some fun on the grass and a decent picnic?’. This was especially poignant as two years ago we went for a similar event at the Botanical Gardens and had to run off the event, in anger and frustration, with our baby’s hands tied with the swaddle cloth due to the scratching and the blood.

Bedtime still comes with scratching for me, as I believe for many parents too. Idle hands, too dry air, or too warm, rising body temperature and for reasons no one knows, bedtime seems to be punctuated with scratching throughout the night. Having deal with eczema for 2+ years, most parents may have figured out a bedtime routine that seemed to be correlated with the least scratching. For us, it’s shower close to bedtime, air-conditioning, a little of bedtime reading and co-sleeping. I got so used to co-sleeping that I fall asleep pretty easily with an increasing weight on me. 

Daytime is much better now with so many activities to do. Be careful with playdough with sparkles or playing with bubbles, either make it quick and wash hands quickly after or wear gloves (we used the first method but parents have told me gloves worked). iPad sometimes save the day, but we try to limit that. Activities that are carried out in non-air conditioned room continue to be a problem, like gym in non-airconditioned area. Marcie scratched a little but I saw an older child with eczema who really couldn’t carry on with the class and just sat on the mat and scratched and scratched. Gym or teachers of classes are not equipped to manage eczema so don’t expect them to. We ended up choosing ballet as that is always air-conditioned and wearing light clothing!

I wonder how your child’s eczema is or whether other allergic conditions start to affect your child. I wonder if your child is attending a preschool that he/she is nicely settled in and the teachers have already known how to care for your child. Marcie enrolled in Columbia Academy and the teachers are very kind and understanding – reminding Marcie not to scratch and getting her to moisturize. As children these days seem to be so much more alert and active, I recommend choosing a preschool that has many activities rather than idle time – the activities (be it reading, writing, drawing, dance or music) really help to distract an eczema child from scratching. Also, I’m thankful that the teachers are strict and very mindful of teasing, calling names or bullying – which can happen to an eczema child.

Finding alternative caregiver is still difficult – my parents took care of Marcie after full day preschool but every time school’s off or Marcie is sick, we will still take leave. Most of our leave were spent caring for Marcie and a short holiday. Packing for holidays is almost like moving the whole house as I always pack for 2-3 change of clothes within a day! We were very thankful that we had very enjoyable family time during this period and pray that your family gets many lovely moments together, despite the eczema.

Parenting Eczema Preschooler

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him”

Skin ish Mom Column

Confessions of a Mom Caring for Eczema Toddler

Caring for any baby, your baby especially, is an unique experience. Mothers do have shared experience though, being mom and going through pregnancy, child birth and caring for a baby who goes through the development milestones. Mothers of eczema children have even more in common, as the struggles of caring for a baby who has rashes all over, experience constant discomfort and itch can only be understood by those who’ve been through them. This series by MarcieMom, are letters to you, with words of encouragement and sharing of her own parenting struggles.

Dear Daddy & Mommy,

Congrats on your baby taking the first toddler step and it’s a joy, eczema or not! Being able to hold on to something and move about can be a great distraction from scratching. I remembered life got better for us when Marcie could explore her world more independently – there’re so many more activities she can do and many of them distracted her from scratching. By one year old, I seemed to have perfected parenting by distraction – it even distracted all the tantrums from the supposed ‘terrible two’ year! (Serious – there was no ‘terrible two’ for us at all, we really distracted every tantrum as that usually comes after the scratching, and we were so efficient at distracting Marcie from the first instance she scratched). Books, toys, teething rings, coloring, fresh change of clothes were things we lug around everywhere. We figured a little of backache would be much better than dealing with the damage from scratching (and ‘spoiling’ the day).

Marcie turning one year old was also the time when I rejoined the work force and enrolled her in an infant care. Many parents ask me if there is a preschool I would recommend and how receptive schools are to caring for eczema children. Well, I would say instead of the school brand, you really need to be comfortable with the caregivers and the teachers. Marcie was enrolled in PCF infant care and one of the caregiver was a Christian lady who really loved Marcie. I remembered her calling me almost breaking down into tears as she reported that Marcie had been ‘tensing up’ for close to two hours (Marcie had a habit then of tensing up in a plank position, something she came up with on her own which we guessed was to stop herself from scratching – she had solid stomach muscles, no kidding). They took very good care of her, moisturizing her diligently and feeding her with the food that we prepared and also gradually introducing her to new foods.

But I know for many parents out there, the toddler years can continue to be difficult – some had to deal with terrible two and also the scratching that got even worse. If you haven’t found a doctor that you can trust or treatment hasn’t worked out, this may be a time of despair as you start wondering if the eczema will ever be outgrown and whether it can learn to other allergic conditions. Some of you would have to deal with preschools that don’t understand eczema or if your child has food allergies, preschools that don’t accept them. I remembered reading a research paper that said the best time to enroll in a preschool is from 9 to 15 months where the child is able to adapt to the increased bacteria and germs better than when younger or when older. Research is one thing though, finding a preschool that you are comfortable with may be another matter.

I pray that wherever you are, there will be caring teachers and caregivers who can take over part of the day/ full day care for your eczema toddler. I pray that you have understanding colleagues and bosses who accommodate if you have to take leave to care for your eczema child. I pray that your child will not fall sick too often and when he/she does, the scratching won’t be intensive (fever tends to trigger eczema flare-ups). I pray for joy and peace to be in your home. I would love to pray specifically for you, leave me a comment on your prayer requests.

Parenting Eczema Toddler

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope

Skin ish Mom Column

Confessions of a Mom Caring for Eczema Baby (6-12 months)

Caring for any baby, your baby especially, is an unique experience. Mothers do have shared experience though, being mom and going through pregnancy, child birth and caring for a baby who goes through the development milestones. Mothers of eczema children have even more in common, as the struggles of caring for a baby who has rashes all over, experience constant discomfort and itch can only be understood by those who’ve been through them. This series by MarcieMom, are letters to you, with words of encouragement and sharing of her own parenting struggles.

Dear Daddy & Mommy,

Hopefully the past half year hasn’t been so rough and you’ve ‘enjoyed’ baby milestones like the baby sitting up, crawling and soon, learning to swallow! Thinking back of parenting Marcie from 6-12 months old, I recalled that starting solids was a time that drove me paranoid. Some of you who have been following my blog know that I’m supportive of allergy test as I believe that it can really help to pinpoint what to avoid. More importantly, what we DON’T HAVE TO AVOID. Without allergy testing, I even thought at one point that Marcie was allergic to the high chair as that was made of latex! Especially at a time of starting solids, it can be very frustrating to write in a food journal and try to observe when the rashes appear when there is no discernible pattern. 

It was when Marcie was 7 months old that we brought her to the skin prick test – it’s not scary at all! For Marcie, likely the itch was normally so bad that the prick didn’t seem to bother her. She merely winced when her skin was pricked but otherwise, was not distressed by the test. It turned out that she was not allergic and it gave us a peace of mind as to what she can eat – finally, we can feed her without trying to link the foods she’s taking to the rashes. Moving to solids then became easier than feeding milk – something we struggled so much with in the first six months due to reflux. 

This period I felt was a tough time as the baby really starts to have strength to scratch and can be quite hard to put back to sleep at night. Half a year of sleepless nights can also ‘break’ someone and the thought that it’s never getting better but worse is terrifying and trying. It is also the time when the mom gets back to work from her maternity leave and not finding someone to take care of an eczema baby can make getting back to work difficult. 

I’m glad that I stayed at home for my baby’s first year. I could take care of her the way I like – feeding (she’s a good eater now, used to foods of many textures and fruits and vegetables, i.e. not the traditional asian porridge with fish diet), co-sleeping and caring for her skin. The baby’s skin has not yet matured and research has pointed to that a defective skin barrier can sensitize a baby to allergens where contact to allergens via skin lead to food allergy. Although it was difficult, I felt that being one on one with my baby helped with her skin and her development. There were fun moments when we learnt sign language to distract her from scratching and sing songs together. Even with eczema, I felt that I had a pleasant time with her especially when it’s leisure time when I don’t have to feed, cook or do chores.

At about 7+ months old when Marcie started on her one-time oral steroid course (prednisolone), I really cried anguish tears. Her eczema improved during the first few days of the reducing dosage course but came back after a week into the course when the dosage was reduced. I was so scared and wanted to stop the course but continued. I’m grateful that her eczema was under control after the two weeks’ course when towards the end of the course, the eczema improved again and was limited to certain areas. It was a scary time especially when you know the same medicine at higher dosage is for treating cancer and the wrong dosage can have serious side effects. To this day, I know that it is a blessing that Marcie recovered after the course as many other children whose eczema worsened – we don’t know how the body will react after the course and knowing that we’ve been blessed keeps my work for this blog going.

If you are seeing a doctor, make sure that you see one who you can trust. Eczema is a chronic condition and seeing a doctor who you don’t trust and don’t have time to answer your questions or dismiss your worries can be the catalyst for much negativity – blame between the parents, fear motivating you to try an alternative treatment and distrust of doctors. 

Parenting Eczema Baby

Psalm 9:9-10

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you

Skin ish Mom Column

Confessions of a Mom Caring for Eczema Newborn

Caring for any baby, your baby especially, is an unique experience. Mothers do have shared experience though, being mom and going through pregnancy, child birth and caring for a baby who goes through the development milestones. Mothers of eczema children have even more in common, as the struggles of caring for a baby who has rashes all over, experience constant discomfort and itch can only be understood by those who’ve been through them. This series by MarcieMom, are letters to you, with words of encouragement and sharing of her own parenting struggles.

Dear Daddy & Mommy,

Big hugs to you for your newborn and I know if your baby has developed eczema in the first month, you’d have barely recovered and adjusted to your new mom role. Being a new mom is difficult – our own body recovering (I had some problems recovering as my baby was above 90% in birthweight), adjusting to feeding baby every few hours and heck, even figuring out how to breastfeed (not all things come natural to all moms!). Before we even figured out and settled into a routine, we realized that our baby Marcie is definitely not sleeping like a baby. For some of us, our baby is also not feeding well (reflux seems to occur more often in eczema babies). We also found out that the rashes on our baby is not baby acne, heat rash but rash that itches so much that our baby doesn’t sleep nor rest well.

I shared about a particular incident when Marcie (two months old) was sitting quietly in her netted chair (over metal frame) while I was cooking. I was thinking it was an amazing evening that she didn’t need attention every 2-3 minutes and I could at least get some cooking done without the stress. When I looked at her after the cooking, I saw that she had blood all over her neck and the reason for her ‘peace’ was that she had the metal frame to rub against her neck (to ease the itch). Another incident was when I dozed off for five minutes when Marcie was napping and I opened my eyes to the sound of scratching to see that her hands have escaped from the swaddling and scratching till blood dripped from behind her ears to her face. I did feel guilty but I also know it’s impossible to not cook, not feed my baby, not pee, not brush my teeth and I’ve really done what I could do.

It was especially tough starting from about four months old, where Marcie was too big to be swaddled and it was getting so difficult to stop her from scratching. Sometimes her swaddle had to be modified to around her hands and it did look like we’re tying her up. Usually it’s only for no more than five minutes so that I can rush off to prepare milk or go to the loo. I remembered the part-time cleaner for our home seeing that Marcie was being restrained and looked horrified. No mom would want to do that but it’s impossible to be holding her hands every minute – most times, she’s already being carried or in a sling or within close reach to keep her from scratching. 

Night time was tough – we co-slept so that we can hold her hands when she’s scratching. When even that become impossible, we’d all wake up, moisturize and freshen up, re-start the bedtime routine for another 2-3 hours of sleep. Life sometimes seem to be on hold when caring for an eczema baby, yet it doesn’t – there are still chores to be done, day job to go to and the stress can really get to first-time parents who already struggle with coping with parenthood. 

Be united with your spouse, seek help and don’t blame each other. Many family members or friends won’t understand what you’re going through and some would have more than a few words of ‘wisdom’ (even when they are not familiar with what eczema is). Shut off those noise, concentrate on your family – that’s what got me through and faith. Having a bible study group to provide support and having a God I can turn to (even if it is just to vent and to cry out) helps. The first few months of caring for a newborn is never easy and if you’re a first-time parent, you’d be learning loads and figuring how to care for your newborn (differently!) from month to month. Caring for a newborn with eczema is so much more difficult, don’t give up hope and let negativity takes over your heart and your family. 

Parenting Eczema Newborn
Encourage the faint hearted

1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all

MarcieMom’s note:

I’ve been working on this blog for five years, and what keeps me going is that Marcie’s eczema has a purpose and her recovering (now localized eczema with occasional flare-ups) is a blessing and that I can help share this blessing by keeping this blog going – encouraging parents all over the world who are at lost and feel alone in caring for their eczema baby.

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Letters for Eczema Back to School – Air-Conditioning

Inspired by my back to school eczema tips, I wondered what letter a parent would write to inform the school of the child’s eczema and skincare.This is the final of a series of four #SkinishMom letters written to different schools (conjured up by my imagination and all schools are fictitious!).

Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Air-Conditioning
Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Air-Conditioning

Dear Principal,

I love fresh air and I know the school encourages your students to head outdoors and put in great effort in landscaping. The classrooms are not air-conditioned, allowing the children to appreciate the fresh air and be ‘closer’ to the greenery. I don’t use much air-conditioning at home too, given that it is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria as well as the much-feared ‘sick building syndrome’. It is also drying for the skin (an aspect that is bad for my child’s eczema) and potentially traps much dust.

But, in these hot summer months, my child with eczema literally can’t live without air-conditioning. His eczema is triggered by heat and sweat – the exact reason for why sweat irritates isn’t clear; it could be the minerals in the sweat, the crystallized sweat crystal or the changing skin pH. However, he really needs to be kept cool, I can offer the following solutions:

  1. I will get a portable air-conditioner for my child’s class (though I can’t possibly buy one for every class)
  2. Arrange for afternoon classes in an air-conditioned room like the computer room
  3. Seat my child under the fan where it is most cooling
  4. Allow him time to freshen up in between classes

I’m not a parent who sweat over the small stuff and this matter is certainly not small. I can have my child’s dermatologist write you a letter to justify the exceptions made for my child.

Thank you

#SkinishMom Disclaimer : A little tongue-in-cheek, don’t cut and paste and send to your child’s school!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Letters for Eczema Back to School – Classroom Seat

Inspired by my back to school eczema tips, I wondered what letter a parent would write to inform the school of the child’s eczema and skincare.This is the third of a series of four #SkinishMom letters written to different schools (conjured up by my imagination and all schools are fictitious!).

Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Classroom Seating Arrangement
Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Classroom Seating Arrangement

Dear Teacher,

Thank you for guiding and helping my child in your class. I know that you have been tolerant of his scratching, due to eczema – it’s impossible to control the itch (in fact, scientists are just beginning to understand how the itch signals can be blocked). I know you have assigned my child to sit near the window, and that he cannot change his seat. There are however, a few problems with this ‘premier window seat’:

  1. It’s a ‘hot’ seat – Not as in my child gets called to answer questions but that it literally heats up by noon. Increased temperature and sweat causes my child to itch and eczema flare.
  2. It’s near to dust – The windows have dust in the ledge and that irritates my child’s skin. I’m not a fan of cleaning windows and certainly don’t expect the school to have window’s ledges cleaned.
  3. It’s near to the radiator – I would expect when winter comes and the radiator is on, the heat from it will certainly trigger eczema rash.

I’d be grateful if you can re-assign my child’s seat. I’m aware that teachers assign seats for a reason (or many reasons) and that your original arrangement certainly has its basis. Perhaps another factor to consider is it is distracting both for you, my child and the classmates sitting behind him to see him scratching non-stop.

Thank you

#SkinishMom Disclaimer : A little tongue-in-cheek, don’t cut and paste and send to your child’s school!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Letters for Eczema Back to School – Strictly Uniform

Inspired by my back to school eczema tips, I wondered what letter a parent would write to inform the school of the child’s eczema and skincare.This is the second of a series of four #SkinishMom letters written to different schools (conjured up by my imagination and all schools are fictitious!).

Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Uniform Policy
Back to School Eczema Letter to School on Uniform Policy

Dear Principal,

I’m in full agreement with your uniform policy and having kids wear uniform give them a sense of identity with the school and eliminates issues with wearing home clothes such as differing fashion views on what’s ‘proper’ wear (and in this all-inclusive age, we almost fear saying someone else’s view is wrong!).

Sadly, my child cannot wear the uniform – not as it is. The current material has 60% polyester, with seams that are very rough and irritate her skin. We have tried, really tried very hard. The first day of wearing the uniform, her eczema flare-up all over her torso, especially the neck and skin areas in contact with the seams. On the second day, it just gets worse. If you’d be so kind to imagine and put yourself in her shoes, it’s like wearing a clothing that has many ants. These are shoes difficult to fit, and which principal can force the child under his care to wear an ant-filled clothing?

I can think of many ways to resolve this uniform problem:

  1. Allow me to custom-make a similar uniform without using the same material and have seams on the outside
  2. Allow my child to wear the t-shirt and shorts attire that is all cotton
  3. Allow my child to wear an inner garment for eczema children on no-exercise days and wear t-shirt and shorts on exercise days
  4. Allow my child to wear the t-shirt and shorts after lunch to reduce time with the uniform on

With all the alternatives, and none proposing to disregard your school’s uniform policy, surely there is some tolerance within your policy to allow for one of the above alternative? Also, deeply appreciate if you can put me in contact with the other parents – together we can negotiate with the uniform maker. Do you need a letter from the doctor explaining why the uniform as it is cannot be worn by my child?

Thank you

#SkinishMom Disclaimer : A little tongue-in-cheek, don’t cut and paste and send to your child’s school!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom letters for Eczema Back to School – No-Touch Policy

Inspired by my back to school eczema tips, I wondered what letter a parent would write to inform the school of the child’s eczema and skincare. Starting from this week, this is a series of four #SkinishMom letters written to different schools (conjured up by my imagination and all schools are fictitious!).

Back to School Eczema Letter to School on No-Touch Policy
Back to School Eczema Letter to School on No-Touch Policy

Dear Principal,

I love that my child gets to study in your school and I would love it better if you allow your teachers to help my child with her eczema. Eczema is a chronic skin condition, and it waxes and wanes. It is characterized by dry skin, severe itch and reddish rash. As a parent who doesn’t want to impose additional work on the school’s system, I would have done all that I can for my child’s eczema when she is not in school (so that there is less that your teachers need to do). But it’s not always possible, and it’s made impossible by your no-touch policy.

Imagine with me:

After exercise classSweat triggers her eczema flare-ups. At home, we would give her a shower and moisturize immediately after (the dermatologist’s rule is within 3 minutes). Yet the no-touch policy precludes your teachers from helping. We have taught our child to moisturize on her own, but can you help with moisturizing her back? If not, she will keep on scratching if her skin is dry. It seems akin to letting a child go hungry for hours (in this case itchy) when offering a snack that takes few minutes will help (in this case, literally seconds to moisturize).

Before heading outdoorsChild’s skin is thinner and more vulnerable to sunburn. Eczema and sunburn don’t go well and likely to worsen eczema flare-ups. Even without eczema, sun protection is essential to prevent skin cancer and sunburn. Sunburn in young children, with fever and blistering, requires immediate medical attention – surely, this is something to avoid. Or is the plan here to not apply sunscreen on a child, take her out for hours, get sunburn and call the parent to pick up the child to see a doctor all in the name of your no-touch policy?

I’m fully aware of the reasons behind the no-touch policy – touching a child may be viewed by some with suspicion and if reported, difficult to substantiate basis for the touch. I would like to make it simple by giving permission to your teachers or nurses to:

  1. Apply moisturizer for my child on her back after shower
  2. Apply moisturizer for my child on her torso, back, arms, hands and legs anytime
  3. Apply sunscreen at skin areas exposed to sun, and that includes face, neck, upper shoulders, hands, arms and legs anytime up to 30 minutes before heading outdoors

Thank you

#SkinishMom Disclaimer : A little tongue-in-cheek, don’t cut and paste and send to your child’s school!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Investigates – Weight Loss and Sagging Skin

Weight loss does lead to sagging skin – sad truth especially for those of us who have worked so hard to reduce weight. The reason was when we put on weight, our skin stretches to accommodate additional fat tissues but as this is lost, the skin doesn’t shrink back. This leads to sagging skin often seen after rapid weight loss.

The obvious way to reduce the effect that weight loss has on sagging skin is not to lose weight so rapidly. Here are 5 tips on limiting sagging skin as you try to lose weight.

#SkinishMom Investigates Weight loss and Sagging skin
Share these 5 tips with someone who is exercising lots for weight loss!

Tip #1: Don’t Lose Weight Too Quickly

Losing weight too quickly, especially when combining crash diets with lots of exercise, can lead to a loss of both fats and muscles. The aim is to lose weight gradually (1 to 2 pounds per week), without losing muscles that support your skin.

Tip #2 Resistance Training

Mild to moderate intensity resistance training each week help to build muscle mass which “fill out” loose skin, reducing the appearance of sagging skin. The resistance training does not tighten your skin but shape your muscles and fill out your skin with increased muscle mass.

Tip #3 Don’t Suntan and Smoke

Both lead to oxidative stress, damage to collagen and elastin fibres and lead to sagging skin (plus UV exposure lead to skin cancer).

Tip #4 Eat Well

It is especially important to eat well when you’re exercising – we mentioned not taking a crash diet but we should also avoid diets that are highly inflammatory. In an interview with dermatologist Dr Cherly Lee, her advice was to reduce processed foods, animal proteins and sugars.

To build muscle, ensure adequate complex carbohydrates, proteins and sleep. Also include minerals and vitamins in your diet, along with essential fatty acids (EFA). In this WebMD article, nutrition and skin experts advised that EFA built cell membrane which not only acts as a skin barrier (to prevent irritants from penetrating and transepidermal water loss) but also as a pathway for nutrients and waste. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids also help to reduce inflammatory compounds, limiting skin damage from oxidative stress. Include also vitamins A, C and E which can increase collagen production and reduce UV damage to skin.

Tip #5 Drink Enough

We have investigated effect of water on skin and the conclusion was lack of water is bad for the skin but excess water does not benefit skin. Drinking enough is important when you’re exercising as water helps to carry nutrients, regulate temperature, improves your ability to work out and reduces heat cramps and heat stroke. However, drinking too much has drawn much concerns, due to abnormally low sodium (hyponatremia).

There are products that you can use or surgical and non-surgical treatments to counter sagging skin. Products containing retinols, vitamin C serus and alpha or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs) are believed to increase collagen production, restore skin elasticity and renew skin. Be careful of overuse of retinols though, as it has been linked to skin irritation. Laser, ultrasound, radio-frequency, infrared, skin lifting/ tightening, dermal fillers and skin removal treatments are available to help sagging skin.

Off to do some squat press, planks and catch some zzz, #SkinishMom

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Investigates – Sagging Face Myths

Recently, I was asked about sagging breasts. As I read more about ‘sagging’, I realized that there are many myths surrounding sagging face. So as usual, I did some ‘Skin Investigation’ and here are 3 Sagging Face Myths.

Wait.. What causes Facial Sagging?

There are many factors and it makes sense that if we reduce the causes, we can limit facial sagging. Some factors like genetics and age are impossible to limit, graceful aging comes with sagging.

Genetics – There are certain genes that are studied to have an impact on how much the skin is affected by UV exposure.

Gravity – Can’t escape this one overtime.

Weakening skin structure – Key tissues that hold up our skin are collagen, elastin, fatty tissues and muscles. These reduce with age as the skin doesn’t renew itself as fast. Muscles that support our skin also gradually weakens, allowing fats to accumulate in areas that result in the appearance of sagging skin.

UV exposure – UV exposure damages collagen and elastin and it is a clear observation in studies involving twins where the twin who suntanned looked older. Collagen is a structural component of skin connective tissue. Elastin allows our skin to return to its original shape after stretching and contracting. Elastin also keeps skin smooth as the skin stretches with movements.

Sagging face looks sunken with less tissues around the cheekbones. A jowl means hanging skin around the neck/jaw. There are also marionette lines between the nose and corner of the mouth.

3 myths on Saggy Face
Don’t start that Facial Exercise!

Myth #1 Exercising (Jumping, Running) causes your Face to Sag

Not true –  The pounding motion does not have sufficient impact to damage collagen. What is more likely to fuel this myth is for people who exercise a lot outdoors, the UV rays damage the collagen AND if your exercise successful yielded rapid weight loss, your skin couldn’t shrink back and appear as sagging skin. Study had shown that moderate exercise had anti-aging benefits, however too intensive exercise may lead to oxidative stress that damages skin.

Myth #2 Sleeping on Tummy causes Facial Sagging

Not true since tummy sleep does not affect collagen but it affects wrinkles. The more the pillow pulls against your skin, and with age, your skin starts to wrinkle (study).

Myth #3 Facial Exercises work Your Face and reduce Sagging

Not true! Actually all that facial movements lead to wrinkles and possibly, unnatural ones where wrinkles wouldn’t have normally formed (review article showed no benefit).

Laser, ultrasound, radio-frequency, infrared treatments, skin lifting/ tightening and dermal fillers are some of the ways to fix sagging skin, but I won’t want to be so ‘unnatural’ in my aging. What’s your take?

Skin ish Mom Column

Why do Chores Divide? #SkinishMom Stumped

Last week, I’ve answered the question on Working Mom – Helping or Harming my Child by Working and while research seemed to give the thumbs up for working mom in terms of parenting, there’s still a lot of Ds over Chores.

Divide – How do you divide chores equitably between both parents?

Divided – Why is chores always a matter of stress and contention in dual-income families? (and a topic that keeps on coming up when mothers get together)

Dread – Ever heard of someone getting excited over chores?

Delegate – How do you delegate chores to kids?

Damn it, just get it over with! (week after week after week… is there chores in heaven?)

Chores is also something most commonly nagged about and I’ve got comments in my Am I Really Nagging? post whether I’m helping men to find excuse not to do chores,  because I’ve said

#1 First ask yourself – Do you really want him to do it or is it easier if you just do it? Put aside equality of sexes and fairness, and consider seriously. If you can answer no and yes, just do it yourself. And read on.

I admit that I’m stumped when it comes to chores. I used to do chores grudgingly, resentfully because I think my spouse has to do the same thing that I do. But it gradually evolved to an appreciation that he does chores that I don’t do and there’s no need to calculate chores. Now, I’m at the stage of ‘Leave me alone to do my chores’ and ‘Can you do this other chore, please?’. It has been working peacefully for the past 2 years.

YET sometimes chores is a real chore. AND many working moms continue to do more chores. Let’s look at some of the studies:

OECD study showed that women spend more time on chores, read this Time article ‘ Closing the Chore Gap

Report that showed women spending 17.8 hours per week on chores and men spending 9.8 hours (for couples with kids below 18)

Interesting infographics on Cozi that showed women tended to perceive doing more chores

In Chore Wars: Working Mother Report – working moms still do more chores but millennial dads are doing more housework than their babyboomer dads

So chores are indeed tricky:

1st, it’s a dread

2nd, what chores need to be done is often perceived very differently by every family member

3rd, how much chores had actually been done by who is also perceived very differently

4th, is it right to ask another family member to do what you want done but not agreed by all needs to be done?

I’m stumped when it comes to chores. Every working mom would have found a way of dealing with it. I think that whatever don’t get you cursing under your breath, shouting at the top of your lungs, bottled with negativity is the right way – you don’t need to hear how other working moms manage chores (or their men!). One solution is being creative to keep chores to a minimal – a smaller house, outsourcing, rotating the chore duties and not being hung up on dirt. Some cartoons for you!

Removing House Dust Mite even when there's no sensitization improves eczema
This is a sure sign you’re doing too much cleaning!
Mom NeedyZz cartoon on Fair Parental Baby Care EczemaBlues
Dividing chores start from birth!
Skin ish Mom Column

Ask #SkinishMom – Am I Helping or Harming my Child by Working?

#SkinishMom Parenting Skin Expert
Ask #SkinishMom any question – parenting, skin, eczema or plain venting!

Sometimes I feel that I spend too little time at home – I reach home at 9pm, my kid goes to bed at 11pm (sic, I know it’s late but I reach home at 9pm). That’s only 2 hours, of which I spend 30 mins to cook, 30 mins for must-do chores and 45 mins for dinner. (Anyone doing the math?). 

So uhmm.. very strictly, quality time speaking, I only have bedtime routine from 11 pm to the time my kid falls asleep (which is 11.45pm to midnight, I know (double) sic). Bottomline – I’m a working mom who is not so much feeling guilty but worried if earning that 2nd income harm my kid.

Worried Working Mom

Totally understand! Your question applies so much to me, it’s spooky! Ok, we all love to be validated by hard evidence and there are quite a few studies that suggest, point toward, conclude that working moms are not harming, but helping our children. Studies have reported:

  • Review article found that children whose mothers worked before age 3 didn’t have worse academic or behavior problems later in life than those with stay-at-home moms.
  • Based on meta-analysis study, toddlers with working moms grew up to have fewer depression and anxiety issues and got better grades.
  • Open-ended questionnaires study did not find that children wanted more time with their parents or thought that their parents were inadequate in their parenting.
  • On the other hand, having resources (including money) and offering stability seem to correlate positively with a child’s academics. Childcare quality is critical to a child’s development, especially since working mom’s kid will spend longer hours at childcare. Quality childcare is associated with better academics and higher likelihood of college graduation.
  • Based on review of surveys, there were observations that daughters of working moms had higher incomes (supervisory roles) while sons were more likely to spend more time at housework and childcare.

Sounds good right? I’m a working mom and when I first read the headlines, I was saying ‘Yes!’. But (there’s always a BUT) deep down, I know I don’t need studies on other families to tell me if I’m doing the right thing. You also don’t need me to tell you if you’re doing the right thing. Well, since you wrote in, you’d probably like some advice.. so here’s my Working Mom – Work or Stay at Home? thought process!

#SkinishMom thinks Work or Stay at Home? for Working Mom
#SkinishMom thinks Work or Stay at Home?

That’s what I believe – I don’t think it’s so much of an issue whether you’re a working mom or stay at home mom. I think (I can be wrong though!) that it’s THE ISSUE that got to be sorted out. So what’s the issue? Hmmm.. maybe

  1. You are impatient or get upset easily with your kids from work stress?
  2. You are not happy at work?
  3. You want to pursue an interest, a cause but that can’t be achieved while you’re holding a 9 to 5 job?
  4. You don’t parent when you should be parenting? (I’m all for chilling at parenting, but sometimes it needs warming up.)
  5. You find cracks in your marriage from how little time you spent with your spouse (and not with your kid)?
  6. You find yourselves hiding behind the excuse of ‘busy work’ to not do what you know it’s right?

If you often think about whether you ought to be a working mom, you ought to think why you’re thinking about it. And of all the studies in the world on what’s good for our child, no study can tell you what’s right for you. Only you know what’s right and being happy is a clue if something’s right.

Signing off with xoxo, #SkinishMom

Skin ish Mom Column

Ask #SkinishMom – Present for Mom of Eczema Kid

#SkinishMom Parenting Skin Expert
Ask #SkinishMom any question – parenting, skin, eczema or plain venting!

I want a surprise! A present! I’ve worked so hard (at work + at home), and we all know that eczema isn’t the easiest condition to manage. Can you make some suggestions on what presents my husband should get for me so that all dads reading your column will ‘GET IT’.. (got it?)

Surprise-Deprived Mom

You are so right! We love presents, especially for those of us whose love language is ‘Receiving Gifts’ (click here for your love language test from Dr Gary Chapman). Here are some suggestions, for men to get your spouse:

Presents and Love Language for Mom with Eczema Child
Gift Ideas for Mothers with Eczema Children!

#1 Time off – Sometimes your wife may seem like she has it all under control and she may even appear not to trust you with eczema care. BUT she may have been wishing for you to step up and volunteer to spend some daddy-child bonding time so that she gets time-off. You never know if you don’t ask, and ask on the day you bring flowers home.

#2 Cheesecake and Coffee – If you don’t know the type she likes, buy a different one each time or even those where you can mix different flavors. Top this with time alone without kids/chores to do when she’s savoring them

#3 Beauty products – Sometimes it can get maddening when you’re applying all the moisturizers on your child but your own skin is dry. Getting beauty products for a mom of eczema child has a deeper meaning – you appreciate her efforts in your child’s skincare (please don’t get one with irritants on the list! Check this ingredients to avoid interview with dermatologist Dr Verallo-Rowell)

#4 Hotel staycation – Even with children along, this is a break from the daily routine. The important part? Be in-charge of packing and playing with your kids during the staycation!

#5 Love – Any small ways you show love is good, including doing your share of chores and not adding to the chore list, hugs and kisses, not snapping at her but showering praise instead. Comes from the heart, man.

Wishing my spouse is reading this too! xoxo, #SkinishMom

Skin ish Mom Column

Ask #SkinishMom – How to Love when You’re Tired

#SkinishMom Parenting Skin Expert
Ask #SkinishMom any question – parenting, skin, eczema or plain venting!

Is it possible to love when you’re tired? I’m too tired to think, feel or do anything, can I still actively love someone? Some days I ought to smile more, hug more or even really look at my loved ones more, but I’m too tired. Eczema parenting + full-time work.. love, it’s (almost) out of the window.

Tired Mom

Love when you tired #Marriage
Have you loved when you’re tired?

Close that window.

Totally understand that it is difficult to love when you’re tired. I feel the same way too. Some days my eyes are only looking at the computer at work or looking at the floor, or the sink or the clothes hangers. But some days I think back of how doing something I know is good and loving will refresh me.

When I was living in Shanghai, I had to travel all the way from city area to the very west end of Shanghai for bible study. Almost every Friday, I felt like skipping bible study, especially while jostling in the cramped train (it’s so cramped that when the driver announced to get ready and move to the door for alighting at the next stop, he really meant it!). But every time at the end of the bible study, I felt refreshed and not tired – my husband felt the same. I kept this in my heart, knowing that if traveling so far, under such crowded (and often stale air) conditions, I could still feel refreshed, week after week for two years. Then, maybe I can love when I’m tired too.

Whoever are your loved ones are the people who God had put on earth for you to love, with the full knowledge that life on earth is no bed of roses. Love and your loved one was never meant to be a burden from the time of Adam and Eve (though that was the start of the ‘blame game’ among couples!). So how can a tired mom love? Especially if you have a child who needs extra care.

6 #SkinishMom Love-When-You-Are-Tired Tips

#1 Don’t blame or beat yourself up on bad days when you snapped or didn’t show TLC to your loved ones

#2 Don’t blame anyone, for anything

#3 If you are constantly too tired, then you should do something about it – ask for help, cut down on work that don’t matter

#4 Smile – Mother Teresa said

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love,

a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

#5 Hug – it’s de-stressing, from Dr Mercola’s website

Hugs are one of the most succinct ways to encourage your body to release oxytocin, and the more oxytocin your pituitary gland releases, the better able you are to handle life’s stressors.

Oxytocin decreases the level of stress hormones (primarily cortisol) your body manufactures and lowers your blood pressure response to anxiety-producing events

Oxytocin has also been found to reduce the cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as for sweets. It even has a positive influence on inflammation and wound healing.

#6 Warm someone’s heart – When I’m tired, I’m bogged down by too many things to do. Usually none of these things satisfy my heart (it satisfied my brain though cos I’d have checked off my to-do list!). When you love, someone else who may be as tired as you has been loved. Knowing that you have done something to warm another heart will warm yours too.

I hoped this post has warmed your heart too, #SkinishMom

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Investigates Confusing Citrus on Skin

It was reported end June 2015 that an association (not causal link) was found between the consumption of citrus fruits (grapefruits and oranges) and skin cancer. Key points in these reports were:

  • Increased risk of skin cancer melanoma with drinking orange juice and eating grape fruit
  • Association, not causal
  • Possible (in theory) that psoralens and furocoumarins in citrus fruits make the skin more photo-sensitive
  • Association found from questionnaires filled by about 100,000 health professionals

#SkinishMom looked up Pubmed for more on citrus fruits and got into ‘Citrus Confusion’ – studies seemed in general to point to benefits from citrus fruits, including that of skin cancer protection. Below are the studies:

Citrus Confusion - Is it causing or protecting against skin cancer?
Citrus Confusion – Is it causing or protecting against skin cancer?
  1. Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin – showed that peel consumption, the major source of dietary d-limonene, is not uncommon and may have a potential protective effect in relation to skin squamous cell carcinoma
  2. Hesperetin induces melanin production in adult human epidermal melanocytes -Hesperidin, a flavonoid in citrus fruits, may protect from photodamage if its capacity to increase melanin production in human melanocyte cultures could be reproduced on human skin
  3. Topical hesperidin prevents glucocorticoid-induced abnormalities in epidermal barrier function in murine skin – Hesperidin can stimulate epidermal proliferation and differentiation, therefore protect against the side effects of topical glucocorticoids
  4. Protective effect of red orange extract supplementation against UV-induced skin damages: photoaging and solar lentigines – Red orange extract intake can strengthen physiological antioxidant skin defenses, protecting skin from the damaging processes involved in photo-aging and leading to an improvement in skin appearance and pigmentation
  5. Oral dose of citrus peel extracts promotes wound repair in diabetic rats – showed significant reduction in blood glucose and time to wound closure. Tissue growth and collagen synthesis were significantly higher

It is true though that psoralen (compound in citrus fruits) make the skin more photo-sensitive; there is a treatment for severe atopic dermatitis (eczema) in adults that prescribed psoralen to be taken 1.5 to 2 hours before phototherapy so that the skin will be more sensitive to the light (“PUVA“).

Taken together, #SkinishMom isn’t going to stop taking citrus fruits but always, sun protection please.

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinisMom Investigates – Tattoo Skin Rash

There was a recent study published “Self-reported adverse tattoo reactions: a New York City Central Park study” where lead researcher Dr Marie Leger, Assistant Professor at NYU Lagone Medical Center, and her team surveyed about 300 people. It was noted that up to 6 percent suffered from rash, itch or swelling that lasted longer than 4 months. About 10 percent surveyed had short-term skin complications.

This again highlight that we ought to take tattooing seriously – it is not just ‘fashion’ because tattoo works by damaging skin barriers. Tattoo also cannot be ‘taken off’, as the process of doing so is a series of painful laser treatments to remove the skin layers that can take months.

As covered in this post, red ink results in the most allergic reactions. However, it is not clear what about the tattoo ink causes the reactions (dye, preservatives or brighteners). There is no easy way to know ahead if you will get a rash/ hypersensitive reaction because patch test may not be accurate since patch testing is meant to test for contact reactions (not when the chemicals are embedded into the skin layer). Tattoo presents a risk of skin rash or irritation/ swelling AND such skin reaction will change the way the tattoo looks! Wrinkled skin will also change the tattoo appearance.

Why Tattoo is Becoming Popular

Tattoos were once popular among sailors, bikers but for the past few years have been increasingly popular among celebrities. Today, ordinary folks in traditional occupations like teachers and government work also spot tattoos. For some, tattoo is about lending a voice to their life with tattoos that mean something to them. Other reasons include beauty, art, group affiliation, on impulse or addiction.

Step by Step Tattoo Safety Tips from #SkinishMom

Step-by-step Tattoo Safety Tips
Step-by-step Tattoo Safety Tips

#1 Is your skin generally hypersensitive? If yes, it’s best to skip it. As patch testing is not full-proof, there’s no absolute way to know you won’t get any skin reaction. Some reactions can appear months later and get only be rid of by removing the tattoo.

#2 Consider patch testing for the common chemicals used in a tattoo, such as mercury sulfide (cinnabar), ferric hydrate (sienna), sandalwood or brazilwood. Each ink has different components so you can decide on your colours and then patch test the ingredients. It is not a full-proof though.

#3 Check regulation monitoring tattoo establishment. Different country and state has different regulation, including inspection and equipment/supplies (contact with blood) handling procedures. You may even want to travel to a state that has stricter regulations.

#4 Go to regulated tattoo establishment.

#5 Get a tattoo you won’t regret! It is reported that more than 20% of adults regretted their tattoo choice… for instance, do you really want the name of an ex-girlfriend on your skin?

#6 Check the batch number of the pigment used. Also check if the brand of tattoo pigment is from more established companies, such as Millennium Colors Inc. Also make sure that sterilization is practiced.

#7 Protect your tattoo by keeping it clean and out of the sun. The better your skin heals, the better your tattoo will look.

Have you tattooed? and how did it work? Recommend your tattoo artist, brand or inks in the comments!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom investigates – Acne and Vitamin B12

A recent study by researchers at UCLA examined the link between Vitamin B12 and acne, as it had been suggested in numerous studies or published observations of vitamin B12-induced acne. It was observed in the small sample of 10 participants that after taking Vitamin B12, there were higher levels of the vitamin on the skin. This led to a skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes to produce more porphyrins, a molecule that is pro-inflammatory. The researchers stressed that the take-away from their study was that skin bacteria is a critical part of understanding acne (and the take-away should not be to stop taking vitamin B).

Acne is linked to the increase of oil/sebum on the skin but the development of acne is not entirely lucid. In an interview MarcieMom had with dermatologist Dr Lynn Chiam, Dr Lynn shared her insight on acne and also tips for those suffering from both acne and eczema.

  1. Acne can be divided into whiteheads or predominantly inflammatory with papules (zits) and pustules (zits filled with pus)
  2. Large and deep zits can result in permanent scarring
  3. Acne usually starts during teen years
  4. Acne can be triggered by increased facial sebum, oily face creams, hormonal changes (pregnancy/ starting or stopping birth control pills/ menstruation), smoking, pollution and high humidity
  5. Mild acne can be treated with creams containing benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and tretinoin
  6. Avoid applying steroid creams (for eczema) on acne as steroid creams can make the acne worse
  7. Anti-acne cream can cause skin dryness, so avoid applying over eczema skin

The key objectives of acne treatment is to heal the pimples, stop new ones and prevent scarring.

Tips for Caring for Acne Prone Skin
Tips for Caring for Acne Prone Skin

Tips for Acne-Prone Skincare

  • Clean away excess oil from the face and wash using gentle (non-soap) cleanser
  • Do not scrub the acne or squeeze, pinch, or pick the pimples as that increases the risk of scars or dark spots
  • Shave carefully – never dry shave or use a blunt blade
  • Stay out of the sun, if on topical medication
  • Choose oil free and noncomedogenic makeup

Do you have a special regime to care for your skin and any particular diet? Share with #SkinishMom in the comments!

Skin ish Mom Column

#SkinishMom Investigates – Summer Foods and Skin

Summer Foods for Skin-  #SkinishMom.pngThere are quite a few articles out there on what summer foods you can eat in order for glowing skin and #SkinishMom decides to investigate! You can never take for granted that if a food is recommended on numerous health/ beauty websites, it means that it is the summer (super) food to eat for your skin – sometimes it’s just one website copying another. So #SkinishMom compiles the common summer foods and look at what they are recommended for (vitamins, antioxidants) and research Pubmed to see if there is a scientific basis for such recommendations.

For Water

This has been covered in this #SkinishMom column where it’s concluded (based on general dermatologists’ views online and research (or rather, lack of, since no one can earn money from researching water!) that being dehydrated is bad for the skin but excess water does not benefit the skin.

Foods to eat for water during summer is watermelon, cucumber, celery, cantaloupe, tomatoes and strawberries.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is studied to varying extent (meaning: the trial is either small scale, or it may be at higher dosage than in a fruit or for application instead of oral or studied in mice) to:

  • Increase collagen production
  • Protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays
  • Helped skin healing, including pigmentation problems
  • Improve inflammatory skin condition (do you know mice are injected with a pro-inflammatory chemical to create inflammation, then administered an oral supplement to test the results, gasp!)

Summer fruits loaded with vitamin C are citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and watermelon.


Our skin, being the largest surface of our body, is subject to oxidative stress – from the sun, air pollutants, stress, alcohol and the foods we eat. Free radicals are formed during our body’s natural metabolism and oxidative stress but our skin have antioxidants to balance the free radicals. Intake of antioxidants have been studied to prevent carcinogenesis (formation of cancer cells) and protect cells from oxidative damage (e.g. limit the effects of sunburn). One study showed that sunburn to cells was decreased by antioxidant treatment via (i) protection from free radical and (ii) increasing epidermal thickness.

Foods with antioxidants that are popular during summer are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Drink up green tea too!


This compound is studied to for collagen production and quite extensively known for its anti-cancer properties for melanoma (along with proanthocyanidins in grape seeds). Together with soy isoflavones, vitamin C, vitamin E, fish oil, lycopene has been studied to induce an improvement in the depth of facial wrinkles after long-term use.

Foods rich in lycopene are guava, water melon, papaya, grapefruit and cooked tomatoes.

Vitamin A

Retinoic acid is essential for skin and bone growth and in the studies, mostly linked with cell development and use in cancer treatment. Be careful about taking too much neonatal vitamin A supplement as it has been studied to be linked to atopy and wheezing in children.

Foods rich in vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins (but these are considered fall vegetables). The case for beta-carotene for skin isn’t so clear in studies though.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects skin membrane and guard against UV damage as it has UV absorptive properties.

Avocado, broccoli and tomatoes are foods rich in vitamin E.

Omega 3

Essential fatty acids are essential from the time of our development in our mother’s womb! It’s critical for brain development (our brains are actually quite full of fats!) and for our skin, omega 3 is able to regulate oil production, have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 3 is also studied to maintain our skin (stratum corneum permeability) barrier, inhibit pro inflammatory compounds and elevate our sunburn threshold and promote wound healing.

Experiment different recipes using avocado, chia seeds and salmon! 

Green tea polyphenols

Geen tea polyphenols (GTP) inhibits chemical carcinogen, induced by UV radiation. Green tea being calorie-free is a healthy drink to acquire a taste for.

So this summer, drink enough water and eat some of these summer foods to help protect your skin – sun protection is still a must though!