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November 2008 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Moisturizers, Potatoes and Varicose Veins

Moisturizers -- Tips To Choose One That Works

ROCHESTER, Minn., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers facts to help size up the best skin moisturizers.

Retail stores carry an overwhelming array of moisturizer choices. There is something for everything from eyelids to feet at prices from less than $10 to more than $100. The good news is that it's hard to choose all wrong. Most -- if not all -- nonprescription moisturizers help smooth skin and replenish moisture in the outermost layer of the skin.

But products with claims that go beyond the basics probably aren't worth the extra cost. In fact, higher cost doesn't correlate with a more effective product. Selecting a moisturizer often comes down to personal preference. Take these tips into consideration when it comes to selecting a moisturizer for:

-- The face or other acne prone areas -- Use products designed specifically

for the face. Other moisturizers may clog pores.

-- Extra dry skin -- Look for a product with petrolatum as one of the top

three ingredients. Products containing glycerin, lactic acid or urea can

provide an extra boost. However, they may sting on application,

especially for those with cracked skin.

-- Sensitive skin -- Almost any moisturizer ingredient can cause skin

irritation or allergy, but fragrances, dyes, lanolin and the

preservatives parabens and formaldehyde tend to be the most common


Moisturizers work best when used daily and immediately after a bath or shower. Well-hydrated skin feels better -- soft, smooth and pliable -- and it's healthy, too. In well-hydrated skin, dead cells of the skin's outer layer are more compact and orderly. This better shields the body from germs and allows dead skin cells to shed without becoming scaly or flaky.

Potato Deserves a Comeback

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Pity the poor potato. In recent years, the lowly spud's reputation has been mashed -- undeservedly so, according to the November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Criticisms have ranged from high carbohydrate count to its role as a magnet for high-fat toppings that add calories. The truth is, if you skip the sour cream, cheese and butter and don't fry your spuds, the potato need not be avoided in a healthy diet.

Here are some common misconceptions about potatoes:

-- Potatoes are high in calories. In fact, a medium-sized russet potato

baked in its skin has just 160 calories. None of those calories are from

fat, cholesterol or refined sugar.

-- Potatoes are nothing but carbohydrates. The average potato has 37 grams

(g) of carbohydrates. But, potatoes also are a great source of vitamin C

with 22 milligrams (mg) in a medium potato. They are a superb source of

potassium, providing 952 mg of this important nutrient, which is

considerably more than is in a banana or a serving of broccoli or

spinach. Potatoes are a good source of protein, too, providing 4 g,

which is comparable to a half a cup of milk. In addition, that

medium-sized potato provides 1.9 mg of iron.

-- Most of the nutrients are found in the potato skin. The truth is that

most of the nutrients are found right below the skin's surface. To

maintain all the nutrients, it is best to avoid peeling. The peels also

have a healthy dose of fiber -- 4 g.

When it's time to cook, think baked, boiled, roasted or microwaved to get the most from a potato without adding calories.

Varicose Veins: Fast Recovery for Most Treatment Options

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Getting rid of blue, gnarled varicose veins usually can be done with good results and no hospital stay. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers an overview of this condition and the outpatient procedures to remove or destroy them.

Varicose veins, which most often occur in the legs, result when the vein valves don't work properly. Bluish-red, oxygen-depleted blood flows back into the legs and pools in the veins instead of taking a straight course back to the heart. The result is stretching and swelling of the veins. For most people, the concerns posed by varicose veins are cosmetic. Bulging gnarled veins aren't attractive. For others, varicose veins can cause an achy, heavy feeling in the legs that can be particularly painful when standing.

It's possible to remove or destroy varicose veins without harming blood flow because the blood reroutes itself. There are several treatment choices, and success rates are high.

Treatments for smaller varicose veins include:

Sclerotherapy -- Small- and medium-sized veins are injected with a liquid or foam that scars the veins, causing them to close off. This approach may require several treatments.

Laser therapy -- Best used on tiny varicose veins on the face, this involves moving a device over the skin that emits rapid pulses of intense, bright light that delivers heat to the veins, closing them off.

Treatments for larger-branch veins include:

Catheter-assisted procedures using heat energy -- A tiny incision is made in the skin, and a catheter is inserted along the length of a varicose vein. The catheter tip is heated with radiofrequency or laser energy. As it is slowly removed, the vein collapses and seals shut.

Endoscopic vein surgery -- Through a small incision in the upper leg, a thin tube (endoscope) with a tiny camera and surgical instrument at the tip is inserted into the problem area of a vein. The endoscope is used to visualize the veins and close them off. This approach is usually reserved for advanced cases.

Ambulatory phlebectomy (fluh-BEK-to-me) -- This is the surgical removal of small to large veins through tiny incisions. It's an outpatient procedure, but activity must be limited during recovery.

Vein stripping -- Multiple small incisions are made along the course of a varicose vein. A hook instrument is used to pull the vein out, section by section. The incisions usually don't require stitches. This procedure requires general or spinal anesthesia and a longer recovery time.

Unfortunately, there are few options to prevent varicose veins. And destroying problem veins doesn't prevent veins from becoming varicose in the future. The main risk factors are genetics, age and being a woman. Past pregnancies and the fluctuations of estrogen that occur at different life stages contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit

SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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