All posts by vrishti01pd2014

The Zest for Curing Zits: What Acne Victims Should Know

I have been trying to get rid of my pimples for the past two years. It has gone worse and I have tried multiple acne removal products. I was using one product in Shanghai and when I went to India for Christmas break, I switched my acne gel again. My grandma, who claimed that she had never experienced acne breakouts in her life, told me that I’ve been putting too many products on my face and this is actually making things a lot worse for my skin. For the first time, it hit me. I was putting way too many products on my face and didn’t even think about what I was putting and how much I was putting.  That got me thinking about what are truly in these products and how they are affecting my skin. I thought about Laurie’s blogpost about petroleum jelly and realized that many of us have a lot of misconceptions about face cream and gel. I wanted to clear things up for myself, so I did my own research. I found out that most acne products have this chemical called benzoyl peroxide. My question is to what extent is benzoyl peroxide effective for acne treatment?

Acne is caused by the overproduction of sebum, which is an oil produced by the sebaceous glands in our body. The oil travels from the sebaceous glands to the follicle, where the skin hair grows. When there is too much oil in the follicle, the pores on your skin gets blocked and forms a bump on your skin. This area becomes an ideal place for bacteria to grow, exacerbating the bump on your skin. (Chase, B.).This bump is known as a pimple.

I’m sure some of you have heard of brands like Neutrogena, Ponds, and Garnier. They offer topical products to help fight those acne on your skin. If you’ve used some of these products, your skin has definitely been exposed to a chemical called benzoyl peroxide or BP (May, E. 2013). You’re probably wondering, how does this chemical work to remove pimples? BP works like an antibiotic as it kills the bacteria in your clogged pores. When BP comes into contact with your skin, it decomposes into benzoic acid and oxygen (Chase, B.). This is because the oxygen-oxygen bond in the structure has a very weak bond and can easily break when it comes into contact with the skin. When this bond breaks, free radicals form from the oxygen atoms. These free radicals are then attached to the sebum lipid. The bacterium that causes acne is called Propionibacterium Acnes and it is known to be anaerobic, which means it can only thrive in the absence of oxygen. The oxygen derived from BP causes the bacteria to die as it provides an oxygen rich environment within the infected area  (G, Susan 2010). Pimples grow because the sebum blocks the pores, and therefore, oxygen and allows for these bacteria to infect the pimples.

Molecular Structure of Benzoyl Peroxide
Molecular Structure of Benzoyl Peroxide

Looking at the mechanism of BP surely tells us that it is an effective chemical for killing the bacterial growth within our pimples. However, I’ve been using products that contain BP but am still not experiencing any changes in my skin. I still get pimples. With that being said, I realized that perhaps it’s not about how much BP and what brand I need to put on my skin. I must understand my skin characteristics and what my skin needs in order to fight acne. Since every skin is different, not everyone can cure his or her acne with BP.

BP can cause skin irritation, dryness, and peeling which are some of the things I have experienced but have just ignored because the problems were so minor. Regardless, they did happen and never solved my acne problems. I recently experimented the amount of acne gel I put on my skin and how much dryness it would cause. I found that when I do put more and more acne gel, my skin would feel even dryer. This tells me that BP isn’t entirely bad, but I just needed small amounts of it to protect my skin from getting too dry. This speaks to some of us who naturally have dry skin. Do not use too much acne gel (ones with higher BP concentrations) if you have dry skin! If you don’t have skin that is too dry, BP can be an ideal medication for your pimples since it does remove the mixture of sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells (Chase, B.).

It’s crucial for us to truly get to know the types of skin products we use as they can have a significant impact on our skin. I was simply putting on lots and lots of BP on my skin and causing my skin to experience unnecessary stress. One thing I learned for sure is that during puberty, which a lot of us are still experiencing now, our hormonal changes encourage sebum production and thus pimples are quite inevitable. However, getting to know your skin type is the first step to solving your acne problems.

Sources:

Chase, B. (n.d.). Salicylic Acid vs Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne. Retrieved from http://www.progressivehealth.com/benzoyl-peroxide-vs-salicylic-acid.htm

G, S. (2010, September 6). The Chemistry of Acne Medication: Benzoyl Peroxide. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/the-chemistry-acne-medication-benzoyl-peroxide-6780822.html?cat=69

May, E. (2013, May 21). Why Benzoyl Peroxide is Bad for Acne Skin. Retrieved from http://theskinnutritionist.net/blog/why-benzoyl-peroxide-is-bad-for-acne-skin/

Okamoto, L. (2013, February 23). You put WHAT on your face?!. Retrieved from http://blogs.saschina.org/chemicalparadigms/2013/02/25/you-put-what-on-your-face/

Puusa, S. (2013, January 23). Why You Should Not Be Afraid Of Benzoyl Peroxide – And My Experience In Quitting. Retrieved from http://www.acneeinstein.com/why-you-should-not-be-afraid-of-benzoyl-peroxide-and-my-experience-in-quitting/

How sustainable are recycled plastics?

We’ve always been intrigued by environmentally friendly ideas, but are we all so caught up with the ideas that we sometimes disregard some of their drawbacks? Recently, my dad, who works in the garment industry, talked about his visit to the recycled fabric factory, where plastics are recycled to make a type of fabric called PET fabric. I was instantly fascinated by it and I wanted to learn more, so I began my little research. I found out that the concept of recycled plastics to make fabrics is not new, so I decided that I wanted to know to what extent this process of recycled plastics are really sustainable. I began by looking at the nature of PET.

PET stands for Polyethylene terephthalate, a type of strong and transparent polyester primarily used for plastic bottles and jars (Napcor, 2013). This is one of the most manufactured polymers in the world (Derry, Clark, Ellis, Jeffrey, & Jordan, 2009). PET consists of ethylene glycol, extracted from petroleum, and terephtalic acid. Both are linked together to form a polymer chain (PET Resin Association, 2012). As can be seen from the image shown below, PET has a large molecular structure, thus the name “polyethylene” to describe the many ethylene parts. The large structure also contributes to the fact that PET is a strong material. Strands of PET are cut into little balls and are melted so it can be molded into different types of products. This type of structure is known to be “chemically inert”, meaning that they do not readily react with other chemicals. (How Stuff Works, 2007). This makes plastics like PET unable to decompose, in other words, not biodegradable, posing a threat to our environment.

Today, many PET fabrics are made from recycled plastic bottles. This is a very good way of recycling plastic, rather than stacking more of them in the landfill. The plastics are re-melted and made into clothing fibers that are later used to manufacture PET garments. From this perspective, recycling PET can be very energy efficient. Because ethylene is extracted from petroleum, recycling PET will reduce dependence on the scarce raw material. The material is heat and electricity resistant, making PET great insulators. All of this is great, but what if these do not end up getting recycled? What if no one wanted your PET garments, and you had no choice but to toss these clothes out?

Another disadvantage of PET manufacturing is its inevitable toxic emissions detrimental to the environment. Although recycling polymers is environmentally friendly, ironically its production releases carcinogens like CFCs that deplete the ozone layer (Derry, Clark, Ellis, Jeffrey, & Jordan, 2009). Can we now say that recycling plastics is sustainable in the long run?

Scientists have been working towards biopolymers and biodegradable plastics to reduce these environmental issues. Cellulose, starches, and soy protein polyesters from plants and bacteria can be used to make biodegradable plastics. Perhaps this can one day reduce the amount poured into those filthy and toxic landfills. Although it is still expensive to produce bio plastics, research and development has been advancing, and hopefully it can serve as a more economical and sustainable alternative to the current plastics we use.

Works Cited:

Derry, L., Clark, F., Ellis, J., Jeffrey, F., & Jordan, C. (2009). Chemistry for use with the IB Diploma Programme Options: Standard and Higher Level. Melbourne, Victoria: Pearson Heinemann.

Freudenrich (2007), How Plastics Work. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/plastic.htm

PET Resin Association (2012), An Introduction to PET, PET Resin Association. Retrieved from http://petresin.org/news_introtoPET.asp

Napcor (2013), PET Sustainability. National Association for PET Container Resources. Retrieved from http://www.napcor.com/PET/sustainability.html

Polyethylene_terephthalate [image]. (2007). Retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Polyethylene_terephthalate.svg

Why Nanotechnology is so important

I have been aware about the concept of “nanotechnology” but I’ve never been sure what it was all about and how it benefits us both economically and technologically. I remember Ms. Jordan bringing up something about nanotechnology, but I was never quite sure what it really is. To me, it sounded very interesting and so I decided to find out more about it and perhaps share it with others who are at the same boat as me. I do know that nano means a billionth of a certain unit. As I recall from my physics classes, nanosecond simply means a billionth of a second, and a nano meter means a billionth of a meter. Nanotechnology involves dealing with or creating technology at the nanoscale. This means that scientists can build tools almost at an atomic level. But why are scientists building such small tools? Some particles that are not conductors on a “macro-scale” can actually be conductors at their “micro-scale.” This implies that nanotechnology help electronic developers create lighter and faster devices. The particles that have been widely used in nanotechnology are the carbon nanotubes. When we studied Periodicity in Chemistry, we learned that carbons form strong covalent bonds and that the delocalized electrons allow them to conduct electricity. Nanotubes, we can say, are the “cousins” of the buckyball or the fullerenes. Imagine obtaining a layer of graphite and rolling it into a cylinder. You have created a nanotube!

Nanotubes have a width of about 1.3 nanometers (Derry, Clark, Ellis, Jeffrey, & Jordan, 2009), slightly larger than the buckyball which is about 1 nanometer. Other than the fact that they are made of strong covalent bonds, nanotubes can be used in computer chips to spread out the heat created by the silicon chips because of their high thermal conductivity. Nanotubes can also be used for medical purposes. Because of the strong covalent molecules, spinning threads from them is possible. Artificial muscles made from yarn can be woven with nanotubes. These artificial muscles were found to be stronger than normal human muscles in terms of its ability to lift heavy weights. Furthermore, nanotubes have the ability to store energy to power devices. For instance, they can “act as test tubes” for storing the hydrogen in hydrogen fueled cars. It just seems that the possibilities for these nanotubes are pretty much endless!

Remember when we used to have heavier phones and heavier computers? Notice how they’ve all become so much lighter. A great example of this is the Macbook air. Apple has been creating devices that just seem to get lighter and lighter and it is all because of these wonderful nanotubes. Electronic companies are utilizing these nanotubes ,more and more efficiently, as digital storages to build lighter, stronger, and faster devices. This makes devices ever more portable and accessible, which are why technology is such a huge part of our lives today.

In the medical world, scientists are still researching some of the things that nanotubes can contribute to our health and wellbeing. Earlier I’ve mention that nanotubes can be used to create artificial muscles. In the long run, nanotubes also play a role in increasing the human life expectancy. So not only devices get more powerful and strong, but also us humans.

It is important to know that even the most advanced technologies may have drawbacks. Regardless of how amazing this might be, the risks of nanotechnology are not yet fully understood. Some research has found that nanotechnology can be hazardous when exposed (Nano.org, 2012). Earlier I have mentioned that in nanotechnology, some macro particles may be behave or have different properties at the micro scale. This implies that even though nanotechnology has been widely used in devices, it is still working its way through the medical world. We can only hope that the risks are minimal so that it can prosper into our very world of developing high speed, powerful, and efficient technology.

Cites:

Bonsor and Strickland (2007), How Nanotechnology Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://www.howstuffworks.com/nanotechnology.htm

Saxl (2012), Making the Most of Carbon Nanotubes. Institute of Nanotechnology. Retrieved from http://www.nano.org.uk/nano/nanotubes.php

Derry, L., Clark, F., Ellis, J., Jeffrey, F., & Jordan, C. (2009). Chemistry for use with the IB Diploma Programme Options: Standard and Higher Level. Melbourne, Victoria: Pearson Heinemann.

Image:

Nanotube [image]. (2007). Retrieved from http://images.yourdictionary.com/nanotube

“Stop PMSing!”

That is what I sometimes hear from guys who try to criticize my moody behavior. But let me try to clarify things! PMS is not the only cause of irritability. There may be other things that can make women feel easily annoyed. Although, I do admit that sometimes I am at a relatively unpleasant emotional and physical state when I am on my PMS.

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome, which is diagnosed when a girl or a woman of the childbearing age undergoes hormonal shifts during their pre-menstrual period. In other words, this is a time when we have an excuse to sneak into the kitchen to grab a bucket full of ice cream and cry to another episode of our romantic, guilty-pleasure TV Show. Despite its name, it can sometimes extend towards our menstrual period, but be aware that different women experience different things while on their menstrual cycle. About 3 of 4 women menstruating experience PMS (Mayo Clinic, 2012).

There are physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. The emotional symptoms include the ones I have already mentioned: moodiness, anxiety, irritability, etc. The physical symptoms are headaches, abdominal pain, breast soreness, food craving, slight weight gain, and acne. I can tell you that I am most insecure about my appearance and so I easily stress out from the pimple on my face! But to what extent can we justify that PMS is a true phenomenon and not just an excuse for us to feel lousy and moody during our periods? First we shall take a look at the menstrual cycle.

As all of you may know from your Biology classes, the menstrual cycle is a 28 to 30 day cycle. It begins with menses, which lasts about 5 days, where loss of tissue lining occurs in the uterus, causing the bleeding. This is the time in which women say  they are “on their periods.” After menses is the follicular phase. At this stage, the follicle, which is the cellular structure located near where immature eggs develop, secretes high levels of estrogen and progesterone. These are the two main hormones responsible for causing PMS. The production of these hormones tells the brain that the egg can be released. The rising levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the linings of the uterus to thicken, anticipating a fertilized egg. After that is the ovulation period. The egg is now transferred from the ovaries to the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized. In other words, this would be the ideal time to make a baby. The luteal phase occurs when the corpus luteum, a left over of the follicle, begins to degenerate. PMS is chiefly linked to this stage of the menstrual cycle because of fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone (Pinkerton, 2012). Estrogen and progesterone levels fall but rise again due to the production of these hormones by the corpus luteum. Because the luteal phase is the end of the menstrual cycle, it is also know as the pre-menstrual stage (before menses occur again).

The Menstrual Cycle – http://www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au/your-cycle/

At this point, the fluctuations of these hormones may be the root cause to why women have intense mood swings before their periods (Pinkerton, 2012). These fluctuations result in changes in neurotransmitter, which are brain chemicals such as serotonin, endorphin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) (EhealthMD, 2012). Changes in serotonin levels may cause depression and food craving. Endorphin is responsible for giving rise to pain and pleasure. However, the effects of neurotransmitters may not be the only reason why women experience PMS. We must consider that every women are physically different. This implies that even health and metabolism plays a role in a woman’s level of PMS. This leads to a conclusion that PMS certainly happens in women, but we cannot generalize the idea that if a woman is in an unpleasant mood, she must be on her period. There maybe women who can handle PMS well and some who have no control of it at all. There are ways to treat PMS, but then again, treatments vary for different women. Doctors recommend exercising regularly to reduce bloating and stress. Adequate sleep and eating right also plays a role in making sure women are at their best.

I feel that it is important for both men and women to understand PMS. Men will be able to deal with their mothers, sisters, wives, and other females around them who are experiencing PMS. I am not implying that men do not have a clue of what PMS is, but perhaps it may avoid conflicts at home if they are more aware of it.  It is also important for women to know what goes on in their body during PMS so that they can take the right measures to reduce the problems they experience. No matter the troubles women must face with PMS, it is part of being a woman, and so we learn to embrace it. This goes to gentlemen as well.

Bibliography:

EHealthMD (2012) Premenstrual Syndrome What Causes PMS? Retrieved from http://ehealthmd.com/content/what-causes-pms#axzz2IPY5LQNm

Freudenrich, C. (2001) HowStuffWorks “Science”. How Menstruation Works. Retrieved  from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/menstruation.htm

Mayo Clinic (2012) Mayo Clinic Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome/DS00134

Pinkerton, J. V. (2012) The Merck Manual Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Menstrual Abnormalities Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology_and_obstetrics/menstrual_abnormalities/premenstrual_syndrome_pms.html?qt=&sc=&alt=

Picture:

Menstrual cycle [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au/your-cycle/