A lifetime of healthy skin: implications for women.Int J Fertil Womens Med 1999 Mar-Apr; 44(2):83-95IJ
During her lifetime, a woman faces the possibility of seeking dermatological assistance for a myriad of conditions, including acne, rosacea, striae, photodamage, and skin cancers. It is important for clinicians and patients to be aware of the symptoms of these conditions as well as the most beneficial approaches for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management. The life expectancy of women has increased and predictions for the year 2050 estimate the average age at 81 years. This will place women at greater risk for dermatological problems, especially photodamage and skin cancer. In addition, various ethnic groups may manifest these conditions differently. Although acne is most prevalent among teenaged males, most can expect clearing by age 25. Females may continue to experience acne into the adult years, sometimes beyond the age of 40. Although it is not a life-threatening disease, acne may have psychosocial and quality-of-life consequences. Treatments for acne can be topical or systemic, and include retinoids, antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and hormonal therapy. Rosacea is more common in women (especially during menopause) than in men. It is a chronic condition that can cause complications, including telangiectasia, conjunctivitis, and blepharitis. Although there is no cure, rosacea can be managed and controlled with medication. Topical antibiotics, such as metronidazole, and systemic antibiotics, such as tetracycline, clarithromycin, and doxycycline, are used to manage rosacea. Striae, or stretch marks, occur most frequently in pregnant women, adolescents experiencing growth spurts, weight lifters, and the obese. Although not a health threat, they can be psychologically distressing. There are not many treatment options for striae, but topical tretinoin and the pulsed dye laser offer promising results. Intrinsic, or normal, aging of the skin results from the process of chronological aging. Photodamage is skin damage caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. It is the leading cause of extrinsic aging, or alterations of the skin due to environmental exposure. Estimates indicate that almost half of a person's UV exposure occurs by age 18. Photoaging causes numerous histologic, physiologic, and clinical changes; it also increases the risk for skin cancer. Photodamage can be prevented through the use of sun screens, protective clothing, and avoidance of the sun during peak intensity time. The only product approved by the FDA for the treatment of photodamage (fine wrinkles, mottled hyperpigmentation, and skin roughness), topical tretinoin emollient cream, may help prevent additional photoaging when it is used to treat existing photoaging. Other management options for photodamaged skin include alpha-hydroxy acids, antioxidants, antiandrogens, moisturizers, and exfoliants. In patients with excessive manifestations of photodamage, surgical management may be needed, including dermabrasion, chemical peels, soft tissue augmentation, laser resurfacing, botulism toxin, and Gortex threads. Clinicians must educate their patients about the most appropriate skin care regimen as well as approaches for preventing and treating common afflictions. In this way, women will have the best opportunity for having and maintaining healthy skin.