New York- Covid-19 infection during pregnancy leads to distinct immune changes in mothers and babies, according to a study.
The researchers found that Covid-19 dysregulates maternal immune response, with different immune signatures between mothers with asymptomatic and severe disease.
"We know that pregnancy increases maternal risk for Covid-19, but relatively little is known about the long-term consequences of in-utero exposure for infants," said Jae Jung, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research.
The study highlights "how important it will be for long-term follow-up after pregnancy to catch and hopefully prevent any unforeseen long-term health conditions related to prenatal infection,"Jung added.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, the team involved 93 mothers with Covid-19 and 45 of their infant children who were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The research team studied immune profiles for more than 1,400 cytokines and other inflammatory proteins collected from peripheral and cord blood samples.
The researchers compared maternal blood specimens collected close to the initial detection of SARS-CoV-2 and at different time points throughout pregnancy and delivery.
They found that compared to mild or moderate disease, pregnant women with severe Covid-19 exhibited significantly more inflammation and elevated levels of a protein called IFNL1 (interferon lambda 1) and the receptor it binds with, IFNLR1, which plays a critical role in protecting against viruses.
"This increase in interferon lambda signaling may help explain why we see relatively little direct transmission of Covid-19 between mother and baby during the period right before or after birth -- what we call vertical transmission," explained Suan-Sin (Jolin) Foo, a research associate in Dr. Jung's lab and co-first author on the paper.
Despite the lack of evidence for robust vertical transmission, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 infection alters maternal immunity at delivery and that gestational SARS-CoV-2 exposure alters infant immunity at birth.
At delivery, the women exhibited dysregulated levels of several cytokines that are associated with pregnancy complications, including MMP7, MDK, ESM1, BGN and CD209.
Among infants, prenatal exposure induced the expression of cytokines related to T cells, which are a type of immune cell involved in recognising and attacking specific antigens.
The majority of births within the cohort were healthy, but there was a high incidence of some complications, including preeclampsia and foetal growth restriction.
More research will be necessary to understand the extent to which the observed immune changes are related to these clinical outcomes, the team said.
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While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
Read More► 4 Ways Psoriasis Can Worsen If Not Managed Well
Some people believe that psoriasis is just a common cosmetic, skin problem. Many believe it is contagious, making it one of the most stigmatized of all skin conditions and cannot be managed. So, which is it?
Psoriasis occurs when one's immune system is overactive and attacks healthy skin tissue, causing inflammation and speeding up skin cell growth. As a result, the skin becomes itchy, painful and scaly, with inflamed red plaques (patches) or silvery scales. These can appear across the body, often on the scalp, knees, back or elbows. Still, many believe these patches cannot hurt them.
Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai said, "Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which can be controlled but has no cure. It can go into remission. Patients and their families have several misconceptions of the disease, such as it are infectious in nature and they have to live with it lifelong.
It affects the patient's quality of life to a large extent which increases his level of stress. Many patients are drawn towards alternative medicine such as Ayurveda or homoeopathy due to the failure of conventional therapy and at times high cost of treatment. This leads to irregularity in treatment, resulting in a flare-up of the disease or treatment failure.
However, patients must understand the importance of addressing the disease so as to avoid the progression of psoriasis and its underlying complications. They must be told that with newer treatment options patients can lead an almost near-normal life."
Here are 4 ways Psoriasis can worsen if not managed:
Inflammation: Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation. What's especially important to note is that even mild psoriasis can be a sign of significant inflammation in the body. This inflammation, in turn, can contribute to other associated health conditions.
Given that dermatologists are the key medical experts responsible for treating psoriasis, it is important to consult one to understand the condition and suitable and advanced treatment options such as biologics
Increased Risk of Health Complications: People living with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing associated conditions or comorbidities. The most common of these is psoriatic arthritis which affects 30 per cent of psoriasis patients. It is a chronic and inflammatory disease of the joints, resulting in stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in joints. If this is not treated, long-term joint damage can result.
People with psoriasis, particularly in more severe cases, are also more likely to have other inflammatory conditions, including heart attack, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other related health issues can also include obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, kidney or liver disease uveitis, and sleep apnea.
Treatment to Prevent Flare-Ups: If unmanaged, psoriasis can lead to plaques and scales that continue to build and spread. Over time, these can become quite painful, causing severe itching. Without adequate treatment to prevent flare-ups, these can increase in severity and frequency. This can even happen to patients who begin medication but suddenly discontinue adhering to their recommended prescription.
It's important to remember that psoriasis can be treated. By adopting advanced therapies, such as biologics, the disease, as well as flare-ups, can be effectively managed.
Mental Health & Quality of Life: Another long-term effect of psoriasis is its effects on an individual's mental health and across one's overall quality of life. Physical symptoms, especially in commonly visible areas like the face or hands can lead to distress and affect one's self-esteem. Psoriasis, which is highly stigmatized, can be isolating or even affect social relationships.
It is also associated with psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety. These place an individual in a vicious cycle increased plaques can lead to anxiety or depression, and such stressors act as common triggers for a psoriasis flare.
By striving to address one's psoriasis, while also attempting to manage stress such as through counselling or lifestyle changes or community support groups individuals may begin noticing improvements in their overall health and well-being.
What Steps You Should Take
First and foremost, consult a dermatologist. Typically, psoriasis can be diagnosed with a simple physical examination with the doctor taking a look at one's skin, scalp and nails.
Once diagnosed, adopting a holistic treatment plan depending on the severity of one's psoriasis is key. If previously taking medication for psoriasis with limited effects, this responsiveness to treatment may also be used to find an approach more suited to the individual, especially considering recent advancements in psoriasis treatment.
It is important to remember to treat psoriasis as a chronic condition with longer-term implications, as opposed to one with temporary treatment solutions. The main aim of psoriasis treatment is to reduce inflammation and plaques. Currently, there are newer, advanced and innovative treatments, including biologics to safely and effectively treat and manage psoriasis. These work by blocking reactions in the body that cause psoriasis and its symptoms.
Biologics are important treatment options, particularly for people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. While they may believe their condition cannot be improved or are distressed about other treatments failing, biologics can have life-changing impacts, especially in controlling one's symptoms. (Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai)
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Rashes, dry and flaky patches of skin are some of the most prevalent skin issues during winter. As the intake of fluid decreases during the winter, dehydrated skin becomes a battleground for various skin issues. Therefore, it's essential to prepare our skin well ahead of the harsh winters. Homemade DIY treatments might work, but they are not all that helpful in solving all your winter skin problems.
Let's put a focal point on what our skin needs during winters:
In winter, we often feel that our skin does not need exfoliation because we haven't stepped out much. But, in reality, winters give rise to dead skin cells. This in turn clogs the follicles and acts as a barrier to the radiance of the skin. Therefore, exfoliate your skin twice a week to get rid of the dead skin buildup. Exfoliation also helps to boost the effectiveness of serums and moisturisers, thereby helping to maintain the perfect level of hydration.
Look for The Right Moisturizer
Beating the chilly winter air is equally as tough as escaping the summer heat. You have to find the right moisturiser that locks in the essential oils in your skin for a longer period of time. Ensure that you are applying that moisturiser twice a day. If you have extremely dry skin and hands, you can opt for an oil-based moisturiser during the winter. Water-based moisturisers are great for summer, but in winter they are not effective as they dry up your skin too often. You can select from shea butter to rich green tea and even rejuvenating fruit butters for intense hydration.
As hyaluronic acid comes with truck loads of benefits, including skin hydration, anti-wrinkle agency, healing agent, and antioxidant, skincare experts across the globe suggest that hyaluronic acid is the best way to maintain hydration during winter. It is suited for all skin types, and skin experts recommend that one should look out for hyaluronic acid-based products when their skin requires hydration. Profhilo has added a new and popular treatment that has gained popularity in recent times. It works by injecting hyaluronic acid into the skin's layers, resulting in visibly hydrated, healthy, and rejuvenated skin.
DIY Facemask for Winters
Face masks can hydrate your skin, remove the dirt and help in improving the pores of the skin. Applying honey and malai (milk cream) facemask is one of the best natural moisturising creams that you can apply on your skin to make it supple and soft. Honey helps to clear your skin off the bacteria that are responsible for the growth of pimples and acne on your face. Mix a tablespoon each of milk cream and honey in a bowl and mix them well. Apply the mixture on your face and skin and leave it for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry your skin and see the result. (Dr. Chiranjiv Chabra, Cosmetic Dermatologist, Director Skin Alive Clinics)
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Winter has arrived, bringing with it dry, flaky skin and hair. Frizzy, lifeless, and damaged hair, as well as dry skin, cannot be blamed only on the winters. Our skin and hair are influenced by many different things, like the ultraviolet radiation from the sun or pollution, particularly pollution from cities.
One of the worst enemies of skin and hair is pollution. Established industries, car emissions, and cigarette smoking all contribute to rising pollution levels. The most harmful pollutants are particulate matter (PM), which includes PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and poisonous gases like SO2, NO2, NO, CO2 and CO2.
"The exposure to smoke, dust, toxic gas, particulate matter, nickel, lead and arsenic can lead to a condition called 'Sensitive Scalp Syndrome', which happens when this particulate matter settles on the scalp and in the hair shafts.""Pollution exposure can cause chemical damage to the hair. It leads to degrading hair protein, affects the hydrophilic hair surface niche and damages the hair cuticles."
"According to a recent research, Intense exposure to the pollutants also affects the skin, reduces the stratum corneum (outer skin layer) quality, increases the dark spots, intensity wrinkles, fine lines and affects the normal composition of natural sebum production."
"Pollution exposure, particularly PM, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and PAHs are also known to inflame the skin, increases the oxidative stress in the skin and working synergistically with harmful sun rays, these pollutants can be one of the main reasons of skin cancer."
All these facts are enough to understand how dangerous and detrimental pollution is for our skin and hair. We need to take some proper precautions to protect our hair and skin from this natural enemy. Here's a list of some of the best pollution skincare and hair care suggestions for you today:
Skin Care Tips
Applying Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Every Day is Important
A broad-spectrum sunscreen with the power of antioxidants is the right option for your skin to protect it from the effects of pollutants. A broad-spectrum sunscreen gives your skin a shield against UVA, UVB, and IR rays. However, the richness of antioxidants in a sunscreen provides full protection from pollution. This is why you don't apply sunscreen even a single day throughout the year.
Must Cleanse The Face After Returning The Home
We rinse our face in the morning for freshness, but in the evening cleansing, the face not only provides you with freshness but also a big relief from dust, grime, and pollutants. Select charcoal-based or active ingredients like vitamin C or retinol-based serums to deeply cleanse your skin from the particles of pollutants. Never skip this step, no matter how tired you are. For healthy skin, this step is a must.
Give Your Skin The Night Skin Repair Therapy
The other thing you need to include in your night skin care routine is a good repair face serum or cream. Retinol, vitamin C or ferulic acid-based face serums are best to repair polluted skin. These ingredients are rich in antioxidants, which help to neutralise free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and reduce pollutant-induced skin damage.
Go For A Home-Based Detox Face Pack Every Week
There is an ultimate DIY detox face pack that you will love to apply to your face, especially if you are a chocolate or coffee lover. You'll need cocoa powder and ground coffee beans for this pack.
These two ingredients contain the best antioxidants to cleanse the face. Take both ingredients in an equal quantity and add coconut oil or milk to make a fine paste. Add honey if you want to, and apply it to your face. Let it dry and rinse your face with normal water. Apply a moisturiser afterwards.
Hair Care Tips
Cover your hair with cloth or hat when outside
Whenever outside, make sure to cover your hair with a cloth or a hat, as it will hinder the direct contact of pollutants with your hair. In the winter, this may be the best option.
Don't Forget to Apply A Good Hair Serum
If you are unable to cover your hair, you must apply a hair protecting serum before going out. It forms a thin covering layer over your hair and protects it from toxic gases and other urban pollutants. The hair serum not only gives shine to the hair but also works as a protector of the hair and keeps it intact from pollution and heat.
Rinse The Hair Every Two to Three Days
Make sure to rinse your hair every 2 to 3 days, especially if you live in an area with high pollution levels. It will clear up all the dirt and pollutants from your scalp, and you can flaunt healthy, wavy, luscious hair.
Give Your Hair A Keratin Spa or Keratin Mask
Pollutants can also impact hair protein levels. To restore it, you should go to a keratin spa at home using a good hair mask. For this, you need 1 tablespoon of almond oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 egg yolk. Mix the ingredients and apply the paste on the overall scalp and hair. Keep it for about an hour and shampoo the hair.
These tips can protect you from pollution and revive your skin and hair to maintain their natural essence. Along with these, you must add antioxidant-rich foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, onions, garlic, and turmeric to revive skin and hair from the inside. (Mr. Rajesh Grover, Co-Founder, Derma Essentia)
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Our eyes play an important role in our lives. They are the sensors that relay information about the environment to our brain. Eyes alert the brain to the prospect of both a safe environment and lurking danger.
Our Eyes Work All The Time- from getting out of bed in the morning to sleeping at night. In modern lives, we have another source of strain on our eyes - mobile phones, laptops and TVs. Studies have shown that unabated exposure to light emitted by these gadgets are harmful for our eyes.
Why Eyesight Could Take A Hit
Technically, our eyesight can take a beating from refractive errors, the normal aging phenomenon (presbyopia, where individuals at 40+ years face difficulty in reading the small print on medicine bottles, and packet contents, among others), eye problems/diseases/infections, and injuries.
Natural light is very important for our eyes to remain healthy. In children, a lack of time outdoors could increase their chances of developing short-sightedness. If you notice your eyesight is deteriorating, the most important thing to do is to immediately visit your eye care practitioner for an eye examination/eye test. The practitioner will be able to identify underlying issues that are causing the eyesight to go bad.
Ananthalakshmi. N, Head-Education & Professional Services, Essilor India lists out ways to help keep eyes healthy:
Eat Right- Eat a healthy and balanced diet rich in Vitamin A
Harmful Lights- Prevent your eyes from harmful radiations/light, especially ultraviolet radiations & harmful blue lights
Sun & The Eyes- Sun is the biggest natural source of UV and Light. A healthy amount of sun rays are good for the eyes, looking at the sun directly can cause damage? even lasting damage? to the eyes.
Artificial Sources- Today, we all are exposed to a number of artificial sources of light, including LED/ LCD used in artificial lighting (bulbs/tube lights); displays on TVs, mobiles, laptops, desktops, etc. Though not as powerful as the sun, prolonged exposure/proximity to the eyes/angle of exposure, can cumulatively, have a negative impact on the eyes and their well-being.
To protect Eyes from Harmful lights, radiation, glare and to maintain good eye health, the use of good quality Polarised lenses/ Photochromic (Light Management lenses) / Blue Filters are recommended
Digital Hygiene- 20-20-20 rule? The 20/20/20 rule says that after every 20 minutes of use, one should look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will relax the eye muscles.
Quit Smoking- The development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract has been linked to smoking. Smoking doubles the chances of losing your sight and can exacerbate diabetes-related vision problems.
Yearly Eye Check-Ups- Children should be made to undergo an eye check-up before they start school, and thereafter, every year. The most important step you can take to keep your eyes healthy is to undertake regular eye check-ups. An eye test does more than just determine whether you need glasses or a stronger prescription. Your eye care practitioner will also examine the overall health of your eyes, which means he/she will be able to detect early stages of eye diseases, such as cataract or glaucoma, even before you notice any symptoms.
Wear Good Quality Spectacle Lenses- Remember, prescription power only gives the quantity of vision, but the quality of vision is enhanced by choosing a trusted brand of spectacle lens.
Now is the opportunity to develop good eye habits. Taking care of your eyes now, regardless of your age or medical history, can help you avoid vision-related difficulties later in life. If you're in your 20s or 30s, you probably don't give your eye health much thought. It's time to change that perception any give eye-health its due importance.
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