Getting professional advice for skincare

THERE’S skincare and the daily ritual of making your skin beautiful and appealing, and then there’s taking care of skin, as in treating it as one of your body’s vital organs.

Last week, CEO and Creative Director of VMV Hypoallergenics Laura Verallo de Bertotto appeared with her mother, and VMV founding dermapathologist Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell to discuss common skin injuries and how to treat them (sometimes they’re VMV products, oftentimes, they aren’t) on a Facebook livestream, which they do often, almost every week.

Ms. Verallo de Bertotto began with a story. “My daughter came in wailing, screaming, and crying.” Her daughter’s finger had been caught between cabinet doors. “I knew it was just too tender and painful to wash right away.” Taking a tip from her own mother, she remembered, “Ice is our friend.” Both women advice against using raw ice, but rather a cold compress or an ice pack. “Wrap it in something,” Ms. Verallo de Bertotto said, because her mother said on the stream that it could cause ice burns —  another problem that one will have to treat. Back to the ice, one places a cold compress under the finger, then when numbed enough, over the finger. Then, she advises using their own Virgin Coconut Oil (branded Know-It-Oil). “Virgin Coconut Oil is really fantastic: broad-spectrum anti-microbial. So, until I can get a really thorough physical washing in there, I put the VCO on top of the lesion.” After cleaning it, she places a “huge amount” of their own Grandma Minnie’s The Big Brave Boo-boo Balm (P1,430), and said not to apply pressure when applying it on the wound; just enough to cover it, then she tops it off with a bandage (of course she advises checking the wound from time to time to check for infections).

She gives the same cool advice for zits: an initial cold compress will bring down the inflammation. Follow this with a warm compress to increase blood circulation to the area, in order to help flush out the infection. This can be followed by an application of the Red Better Spot Corrector. She advises stocking up on their brand’s Red Better line (which includes a balm). She says one can use it for sunburns, or anything that’s painful (on your skin, of course).

Ms. Verallo-Rowell, meanwhile, answered some queries about insect bites. She explained the mechanisms of an insect bite: the proboscides of some insects (especially mosquitoes) penetrate into the dermis, puncturing and inflaming some blood vessels along the way. This causes the initial redness. Dark spots that appear afterwards come from active melanocytes (people with darker complexions are prone to this), but also due to iron-based pigment from the red blood cells that have leaked out from the initial “bite.” “That’s why they last forever,” she noted.

She also answered a query from those with allergies to adhesives on band-aids and the like. She advised testing out several, but then also advises using roller bandages as an alternative.

As for things like burns, she said: “The best thing to do is to do as little as possible.” She advises using VCO to clean the wound. “If you like water, use bottled water. Not anything from the sink.” You’ll always need a little bit of water to clean the debris, anyway. Ms. Verallo-Rowell believes that the VCO is needed to help the wound heal, because the fatty acids in it are important to the lipid bilayer of cells. “Cells are what makes that thing heal. You want more of them.”

“I was an early guinea pig for that,” Ms. Verallo de Bertotto recalls, citing an incident when she had a second-degree burn on her leg as a girl.

However, Ms. Verallo-Rowell, being a doctor herself, says that there are some things only doctors should be treating. This includes a certain sort of pimple. “If it’s the most monstrous zit you’ve seen in your life, go see a doctor,” her daughter said, warning about MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections. Her mother added, “The earlier you go to a professional to watch over things like that, the better.” Even ordinary pimples can still be dangerous: Ms. Verallo-Rowell advises seeing a professional when there’s a pimple on your nose. Its location makes it close to the brain, and enables a direct connection to it. “See somebody (a doctor) for antibiotics.”

“Don’t even try puncturing that.” —  Joseph L. Garcia