What a year it’s been! Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, a tumultuous election, an unprecedented number of job losses and financial concerns, and the challenges of working from home and/or virtual learning – not to mention other issues like divorce, fertility issues, family fights, and more – it’s easy to point to the stressors in our lives right now.
Add all these factors to the holiday season, and, for some, the perfect storm looms. Some people must manage their stress because of traveling and family gatherings, while others deal with stress due to loneliness and separation. With some areas facing another lockdown and potential travel restrictions, some of us may be changing our plans at the last minute, which creates yet another source of stress. With so many people struggling right now, the 2020 holiday season promises to be a particularly challenging time. And, unfortunately, many of these problems and their effects will follow us into 2021.
The Impact of Stress
Some people cope well with stress, finding it invigorating and allowing it to stimulate and motivate them. After all, stress and our response to it is part of the human condition. However, everyone has their limits, and where this limit lies is highly variable over a person’s lifespan.
Stress contributes to well-known and frequently discussed issues such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. This article will consider two dermatologic conditions often caused by stress: hair loss and hyperpigmentation. While many of the negative effects of stress are deeply concerning and linked to a reduced life span, skin conditions respond well to treatment and represent a “low-hanging fruit” in terms of fast and effective improvements to a person’s well-being and self-image.
Stress-Induced Hair Loss
With stress-related hair loss, patients typically present with sudden or patchy hair loss or complain of more than typical hair loss when combing or washing their hair. There are three common explanations for this disorder:
- Telogen effluvium occurs when significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into their resting phase.
- Trichotillomania is patient-mediated hair pulling. This may occur when patients are exposed to unusual levels of stress.
- Alopecia areata may arise due to several factors, one of which is severe stress. This condition is triggered by the body’s own immune system attacking hair follicles.
Hair loss is not always related to stress. Overall, it is such a common condition that 80 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience either patches or overall thinning of their hair for various reasons.
Treatments for Hair Loss
VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft have potential solutions for hair loss that utilize potent ingredients. As each individual case is different, compounding is an excellent strategy to address a patient’s specific type of hair loss or hair thinning, including the duration and severity.
Effective treatment requires that the prescriber considers more than two dozen variables, which is why we offer a multivalent approach that addresses all the known factors that contribute to hair growth. These include:
- Opening ion cells within follicles
- Suppression of dihydrotestosterone
- Management of perifollicular fibrosis
- Exertion of antioxidant effects
- Extension of the anagen growth phase
- Upregulation of expression of vascular endothelial growth factor
- Blockade of chronic inflammation
By applying our proprietary liposphere technology, we ensure that the treatments reach their target. In fact, our sophisticated delivery system guarantees that the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the scalp, where they are most effective.
As with hair loss, a deteriorating or chronic skin condition is often deeply tied with a person’s self-confidence – which is why, in both conditions, a negative feedback cycle occurs, where stress exacerbates the condition, which then causes further stress.
Hyperpigmentation is typically caused by an uneven production of melanin in the skin. It is often more apparent in skins that are darker and contain more melanin.
Hyperpigmentation may be triggered by factors such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Inflammatory responses
- UV exposure
The skin is an organ that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of stress, some of which result from neuroinﬂammatory conditions, such as:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Alopecia areata
Challenges in Treating Hyperpigmentation
One of the issues faced by patients dealing with hyperpigmentation is the rising cost of treatments. Sadly, these price hikes are disproportionate in dermatological treatments. Percent increases for multiple, frequently prescribed medications have greatly outpaced inflation, national health expenditure growth, and increases in reimbursements for physician services. Even when third-party payers cover a product, there is often a significant copayment required.
Unfortunately, treatments that work well and directly impact a person’s mental health are often so expensive that patients cannot afford them once, much less multiple times. Here at VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft, we are acutely aware of this issue, and we try to provide a solution to the problem with our bespoke compounding services.
Compounding for Hyperpigmentation
Our pharmacists are experts at creating custom compounds that address both medical skin conditions and aesthetic concerns. We collaborate with prescribers to develop formulas to provide effective treatments at affordable rates.
To treat the causes of hyperpigmentation, we have developed:
- Allergen and preservative-free formulas
- Antioxidant creams and serums
- Bleaching agents, including kojic acid, hydroquinone, arbutase, and azelaic acid
- Customized blends – working with prescribers to choose a base as well as add-on ingredients
We also provide compounded chemical peels to assist with each patient’s specific requirements. Whether you need to vary peel strengths or create multi-ingredient blends, we can assist you.
Custom Peel Formulas include:
- Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) 10-50%
- Glycolic Acid 20-50%
- Salicylic Acid 20-30%
- Jessner Peel (Resorcinol 7% / Salicylic Acid 7% / Lactic Acid 7%)
- Custom VLS peels and re-brightening blends
- Add-ons, including retinoic acid boosters and hydroquinone
With the changes to normal routines and a greater temptation to overeat and overdrink, the holiday season is always a time of additional stress. Add the impact of COVID-19 and the 2020 holiday season will be particularly challenging for some. With the help of the compounding services offered by VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft, you are better able to support patients suffering from the physical consequences of stress in an affordable and compassionate manner.
Reach out to our team to learn about best practices and to partner with our experts on custom medications for your patients.
All medications from VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft are prepared in a lab that follows safety and quality standards per our status as a 503A pharmacy.