Photo Credit: thedermblog.com
Jeffrey Benabio, MD, is helping to elevate dermatology’s profile, making it one of the most connected and digitally savvy specialties out there. A practicing dermatologist, Benabio also serves as the Physician Director of Innovation and Transformation at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. As such, he spends a good deal of time working to promote telehealth initiatives, social networking for doctors, and digital healthcare delivery. In the future, individuals who are able to take a selfie of a mole and email it to their doctor for real-time analysis will owe a big thank you to Benabio, who is also the voice behind The Digital Doctor, a popular blog that educates patients about health and wellness.
Benabio connected with Beauty in the Bag over email (after all, what else would you expect form the Digital Doctor?) to discuss his skin care philosophies as well as how telemedicine will change the way dermatologists see patients just like you in the not-too-distant future.
What are the three worst things we do to our skin?
We don’t adequately protect it from the sun’s damaging rays. Although people are generally better about applying sunscreen today than they were years ago, we still have lots of room for improvement. We know that sun exposure and sunburns, in particular, can lead to both premature skin aging (wrinkles) and skin cancer and that regular use of sunscreen is related to a reduced risk for skin aging and skin cancer. To keep your skin healthy, you must protect it. And that means for most people applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 daily. It also means being sun smart by covering up with clothing, hats and sunglasses and seeking shade when outdoors.
We also don’t moisturize enough. With winter approaching, it’s particularly important to get in the habit of using moisturizing body washes and moisturizing lotions. When temperatures drop, there is less humidity in the air, which causes any moisture on exposed skin to quickly evaporate. Whipping winds and blasting heaters exacerbate your already parched skin, leading to uncomfortable, dry, chapped, cracked skin. First, stop using bar soap which strips oils off of your skin, leading to dry skin. Instead, use a moisturizing body wash such as Dove Men +Care’s body washes that have micro moisture technology to lock in moisture and keep skin feeling and looking healthy. Also, try to apply moisturizer to hands as often as possible, especially after hand washing. Cover up with hats, scarves, and gloves when outdoors, and try eating more omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as salmon and walnuts which can help keep your skin fight off dryness.
We pick, poke, prod, and pluck with abandon. Although tempting, it’s never a good idea to pop a pimple. Most people apply too much pressure which pushes the bacteria into the skin, worsening an already unsightly blemish. It’s not uncommon for the skin to become red, inflamed, and tender. Picking and prodding also leads to scarring and dark marks that can take months or years to fade.
What is your go-to product line?
I always recommend Dove products to all my patients – the brand is known and trusted in dermatology communities for cleansing, moisturizing, and care. For the guys, I tell them to use Dove Men+Care products, which are specifically formulated for men’s skin across personal wash, deodorants, face care and hair care. For example, in the summer I suggest men use the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Face Lotion. It not only offers advanced protection for dry skin, but it also contains a broad spectrum SPF 15. It’s fast absorbing, non-greasy, and has a light, fresh scent, unlike other products with high levels of perfume which can irritate skin. Check out dovemencare.com for more information.
If there was one thing you would recommend to stave off wrinkling and premature aging, what would it be, and why?
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Most people highly underestimate the importance of quality sleep. We know that lack of sleep is related to many health issues and is critically important for your skin’s health. Sleep is a strong anti-inflammatory, so it can help with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, acne, and psoriasis. It also helps your skin look less dry, wrinkly, and puffy. That’s why when you’re tired, your face shows it: Your eyes are puffier than usual, and those fine lines don’t look so fine anymore. Chronic sleep deprivation can leave your skin looking and feeling dry, dull, and wrinkly. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a host of medical problems including weight gain, memory problems, and headaches to name a few. Sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.
Tell us how you see telemedicine affecting the way dermatologists treat patients.
It will be an additional way that patients can “see” their doctor for help. It is becoming increasingly common for patients to send photos by email to their dermatologist; it’s an easy and convenient way for patients to get answers to their skin questions. Teledermatology is also used between primary care physicians and dermatologists. In that instance, the primary care physician can send a photo to a dermatologist when they have a question about a rash or a growth. Getting a response right away from a dermatologist helps make primary care physicians even better at taking care of their patients. With the use of technology, there will be fewer barriers between physicians and patients.
Is your passion technology, skin care or both?
Both. I’m fortunate to practice medicine at a time when more people than ever have health insurance, when technology is better than ever at helping us care for people, and when patients are more informed than ever before about their health and healthcare. I’m always looking at technology as a means to make us better physicians and to enhance the relationship that doctors have with patients.
What do you predict will be the next big thing in dermatology?
Apps that accurately diagnosis skin cancer and other skin conditions, including rashes. We’re close to doing so today, and this will transform dermatology.