Masks are on for all public transport NZ

23 Feb, 2021


Try to embrace the mask, it’s really not that hard even to wear one all day.

Masks protect people near you from infections such as Covid-19.  Masks do not cause infections such as Staph but just like your knickers regularly washing or changing to keep them clean is the only way to go.  Masks sometimes aggravate acne and contribute to other facial rashes hence the 2020 rise of "maskne".

Prolonged mask wearing can cause some irritation for some wearers.  If you are prone to dry skin, use gentle cleansers and apply a moisturiser whenever possible.  If prone to acne, use lighter moisturisers and limited make-up under the area on your face covered by a mask. Heavier products combined with the moist air inside a mask can aggravate acne. 

Underlying skin problems may be aggravated by prolonged mask wearing. If you experience skin problems on your face, see a dermatologist. 

Wash and dry or gel your hands before putting on a mask.  This way you will not spread bugs from your hands to your face.  Avoid touching the mask once in place as this also transfers bugs. When learning to wear a mask it is common for people to fiddle with their masks, practice at home to fit it and leave it in place.  Choose a mask that fits well and fix it on reasonably firmly.  Higher on the nose is best, if it has a wire inner this is designed to mold over your upper nose – it holds the mask in position, reduces fogging of glasses and improves the fit.  If the mask falls to only partly cover the lower nose or falls to become a chin cover then something is wrong with the fit - just try again with clean hands!!

Reusable masks reduce waste but should be washed daily.  Cotton and silk are kinder to the skin than synthetics as the inner - against skin - layer.  For added effectiveness non-woven polypropylene is a good mask filter.  In NZ there is also the HELIX.iso filter.  Best evidence supports washing at 60 Celcius and with soap.  Dry outside in the sun (UV kills lots of infections) and wind unless you are pollen sensitive, hot dryers are also helpful to clean and many can be hot ironed which is another cleaning step.  Gentle lukewarm hand washing is not so effective which is a downside to silk masks which may otherwise be excellent.  If the silk mask is unable to be hot washed include an antibacterial and rinse well in fresh water. Please note there are downsides to cleaning a mask in a microwave – fire risk – and don’t try the rice cooker.  If only wearing for a very short time you can increase the time between washes but not if you stuff the mask in the same bag or pocket as your keys, coins and dog treats.  Remove the mask from your face with clean hands and carefully place in a clean bag.

Watch out - UV EXTREME

27 Jan, 2021

Extreme UV conditions persist across Aotearoa.  Dermatologists are seeing sunburns because people underestimate the power of the sun.  The commonest thread seems being caught out if it is overcast or the wind is cooler and over reliance  on limited applications of sunscreen.

People are coming into the dermatologist for post-holiday checks with tanned and freckled up skin which equals sun damage. Shoulders, necks and chests seem to be hit most by burning and this is most easily prevented with summer clothing with higher necklines and sleeves when outdoors.

These high UV days coincide with the summer sales.  A long-sleeved SPF 50 sunscreen is a great option as a summer gift.  Make the most of the sales and look for lighter weight UV protective clothes with more cover in the sleeves or legs, sarongs can be a great cover all for the beach. Avoid the potential for a fried chest and shoulders from a tank top, layer these with a good looser cotton or linen overshirt when outside.

Parents need to be alert for sun protection measures for children particularly when the sports and school swimming days are held over the next few months.  Educate the children to remember the slip slop slap shade message.  Outdoor sports days can be times of high risk especially for fairer children and proactive parents should push for Sunsmart measures in their schools. supplement? that is the question..

19 Oct, 2020

Looking healthy is a common desire.   We are flooded with images of beauty and tips on achieving this.  Collagen supplements are a current enticing tool.  Are they worth the expense?  Watch NZDSI president Dr Louise Reiche in the collagen debate on Fair Go’s programme tonight on TV One or on TVNZ On Demand.

The skin is the largest organ in our body.  Our general health, daily habits and lifestyle impact on our skin’s quality and appearance.  Visible ageing changes such as wrinkling and dry skin are partly determined by our genetics and our age.  Diet and the environment are also major factors.  

Food we eat is broken down by our gut into small molecules that can be absorbed through the gut wall into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body.  Cells absorb those building blocks to construct what the body needs. Collagen protein is a rope-like structure which provides strength to our skin, muscles and bones.   Collagen is rich in glycine, lysine, proline and hydroxyproline, but is an incomplete food protein because it lacks tryptophan which our bodies cannot make and thus require from the diet.  Collagen in our diet or in supplements can be broken down and reused for making new collagen or other proteins.  Manufacturing strong collagen in our body relies on additional nutrients (“cofactors”) such as Vitamin C and various minerals.  Consuming lots of collagen could create a nutrient imbalance and without other necessary cofactors the collagen production could either fail or be poor.

Having a balanced diet by eating a wide range of foods, ensures we will get plentiful nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins and anti-oxidants and are less likely to suffer imbalances, which can be the risk from taking supplements.  The Mediterranean diet - predominantly fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, legumes and seafood, some white and smaller quantities of red meat, is the diet associated with best health outcomes and delayed ageing. Transport and storage reduces fresh food quality so choose locally grown and seasonal vegetables.  They are cheaper, and better for our environment and support our local communities economically.

Sun exposure is the biggest environmental factor contributing to visible skin ageing.  So habitually protecting your skin from the sun is key: seek the shade, wear a broad brim hat, wraparound sun glasses, high ultra-protective factor (UPF) clothing and a broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen to all exposed skin when going outdoors.   Regularly having a good night’s sleep, regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, avoiding smoking, and minimising alcohol consumption are additional ways to keep healthy and have healthy looking skin.

Spring school holidays..time to be Sun Smart

3 Oct, 2020

This weekend really is one to enjoy the outdoors in many parts of Aotearoa.  With almost summer temperatures in eastern areas the beach will lure the hardier swimmers. Crazy spring changeable weather given it was snowing at a few southern beaches last week that are reaching over 20 degrees today.  The spring school holidays are a time to take sun protection more seriously whatever the temperature.  The UV index is indicating sunburn risk - hitting 4s in the south and in the high range - 8 - in the north.  Invest in good wider brim hats and clothing for the beach and pools and consider working sun protection into the day’s plans well before the sunscreen goes on. Plan to be indoors or in the shade during the middle of the day. Some parents will find a midday siesta can work well for a break from the highest UV conditions.  Aim for SPF 50 long sleeve rash tops and SPF 50 sunscreen.  Remember to keep up the hat and sunscreen habit once back at school for Term 4.  If you are blessed with a pool at home it’s likely sited in a high UV position, don't wait for summer, add some effective shade now and limit exposure to that midday sunshine.


Here comes the sun… it’s been a long cold lonely winter… Kia ora George Harrison

30 Aug, 2020


In a year of uncertainty we have a welcome constant coming up on the earth’s calendar.  Spring has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere. Our increasing daylight hours are welcome following Matariki. In northern Aotearoa the kowhai flowers are bursting, koanga, time for planting.

It’s almost spring equinox – officially 1.30am NZ time on September 23, 2020.

The equinox occurs twice a year when the earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun.  After this date we will be thrown into strengthening sunlight as the earth slowly tilts and brings the south pole closer to the sun.  The UV index will be creeping up.  NIWA’s Leigh UV station is recording 4-5 during the middle of the day, Wellington is also just starting to reach UVI 3-4 and southern NZ will not be far behind.  Three plus is where the UV level has burning potential and slip, slop, slap is recommended during the stronger sunshine hours of the day.   It can still be cold and windy but don’t underestimate the spring sun on skin that has been hidden over winter.

Remind yourself of your level of risk – fair skin, your activities, past sunburns, family history, medicines you take, medical conditions - talk to your dermatologist about these factors. Our spring blogs will cover some of these.  Meanwhile get out your hat, keep the long sleeves, renew your sunscreen and enjoy the spring.