• Jennifer Goldwasser, MD

Sometimes, it's a subtraction problem

As we start the new year, many of us are asking ourselves what we need to add to our lives to improve our health. But the truth is, for many of us, the more relevant question might be, what do we need to subtract?

Some of the answers to that question should be obvious: smoking/vaping, unnecessary prescription medications, recreational drugs including alcohol and caffeine, excess weight, and processed/sugary foods. While physicians are mostly inclined to approach medical problems by adding something to the equation (usually a prescription product), often the better approach might be to consider what needs to be reduced or eliminated.

I find that to be the case with many skin issues. Here are some clinical scenarios that might better convey this idea:

1. The stressed, sleep-deprived college student, who is eating poorly and drinking excessively and/or smoking, and wondering why her acne is flaring

2. The overweight patient with sleep apnea, on multiple medications for atherosclerotic heart disease and diabetes, whose psoriasis is out of control

3. The rosacea-sufferer who is consuming red wine daily, and who can't seem to understand why facial redness and pimples have been so stubborn

Marie Kondo's book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up, encourages us to consider purging ourselves of our excess stuff. If we apply that concept to our health, we might find that less really is more.

Here's to a healthy and happy 2020!