Suffering In The Name Of Beauty

Beauty can come at a high price - DIY waxing and hair dying sessions may trigger allergies and hair loss, and some slimmers chase weight loss by buying risky online weight-loss. We check out the perils of beauty.

We all enjoy looking good and often follow the lead of celebrities who are the first to try the latest beauty trends. But chasing glamour may come at a high price to our health, from allergies caused by hair dyes to overdosing on sunbeds in pursuit of a tan.

:: Luscious lashes


Girls Aloud star and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole helped spark the craze for eyelash extensions, but The College of Optometrists warn that many people may be turning a blind eye to their possible dangers.

Repeated use of extensions may cause traction alopecia, a condition where hair falls out due to excessive tension on the hair shaft.

The organisation warns that there is a risk of eyelash follicles being permanently damaged.

Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric advisor at The College, points out that bonding agents and glues are irritants, which may cause discomfort and even potential eye damage.

"As eyelash extensions are such a new trend, there is little clinical research into their impact on eye health so we are urging women to take care," she says.

:: What can I do?:
Always use a reputable beauty salon and have an allergy test prior to treatment.

Check whether you can wear mascara or go swimming while wearing the extensions. Seek advice from an optometrist if you suffer discomfort or irritation.

:: Dyeing for trouble


Sales of home hair colouring kits have shot up 20% as women try to save money in the credit crunch.

But it's vital to take precautions to avoid the risk of suffering from allergic reactions.

"An allergic reaction can range from an irritation on the scalp, swelling affecting the eyelids and ears, through to the most severe, but extremely rare, occurrence of an anaphylactic shock," says Marilyn Sherlock, chair of The Institute of Trichologists.

"It's essential that people follow the manufacturers' instructions given with hair dye products and always do a patch test to check for allergy."

:: What can I do?:
Adverse symptoms may indicate a reaction to certain chemicals. Scientists advise leaving 72 hours after applying the patch test solution.

:: Tight jeans


Figure-hugging, low-slung jeans are believed to contribute to infertility problems in men thanks to overheating in the crotch area! They may also trigger yeast and urinary infections in women.

For women, wearing tight jeans can put pressure on the urethra - the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside - causing inflammation that may lead to one of the most common problems, cystitis.

Passing urine becomes painful, frequent and urgent and requires medical attention.

:: What can I do?:
Choose jeans with a slightly higher cut, and ensure the denim has a degree of stretch. Avoid very tight belts, which may restrict breathing, digestion, and circulation.

:: Dying for a tan


The Cancer Council warns that people who had ever used a sunbed have a 15% increased risk of melanoma and, amongst those using one before the age of 35 the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer increased by up to 75%.

Sunbeds give out UV rays just like the sun. Exposure to UV rays - whether from the sun or a sunbed - damages the DNA in skin cells, which can cause cancer.

:: What can I do?:
Use your common sense - avoid tanning salons and stay out of the sun between 11am-4pm. Always wear sun cream with a high protection factor. Visit www.cancer.org.au for more information.

:: Earring hazards


Large, dangly earrings may look great when worn on the red carpet by stars like Angelina Jolie, but they can damage ear lobes.

Consultant plastic surgeon James McDiarmid says he's seen a 20% rise in patients requesting repair work after wearing heavy, chandelier-style earrings, as they can tear lobes or cause sagging.

"Women are being damaged by fashion earrings," he says.

"It's not just splitting or stretched earlobes. The lobes can also swell and they have lumps the size of a marble that look like dumb bells on either side of the lobe."

"Usually we can refreshen the edges and put them back together and repair the ear front and back."

:: What can I do?:
Limit how often you wear heavy earrings and take them off at the first sign of discomfort.

:: Bagging an injury


Big bags may be fashionable but they're a common cause of neck and back pain.

Research by Nurofen reveals that the average woman carries at least seven items in her handbag, which weighs nearly half a stone (3kg).

The study also found 56% of women suffer pain in the shoulder, neck or arm through carrying big bags, while 22% experience daily pain.

Medical expert Dr Rosemary Leonard says carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder alters the symmetry of the upper spine and puts a strain on muscles supporting the neck and shoulders.

"This can result in tingling and pain in the arms and hands, shoulder pain and even long term neck and upper back problems."

::What can I do?:
Carry less and alternate which shoulder you carry your bag on. Ideally, use a backpack or a bag with a wide shoulder strap.

:: Killer heels


Fans of skyscraper high heels may suffer sore, aching feet at the end of an evening.

"High heels throw weight on to the ball of the foot, which may lead to calluses, painful bunions, corns and deformity," explains Nita Parmar at The UK Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

They may trigger back problems as the spine is thrown out of alignment as you try to lean backwards to keep balance, while narrow heels can cause ankle instability, resulting in sprains.

:: What can I do?
Experts advise varying your heel heights from day to day. See a registered podiatrist for advice on feet or specific footwear.

:: Nailing it


False nails - either acrylic or gel - are very popular, but nails can become damaged or prone to disfiguring infections.

Celebrity manicurist Glenis Baptiste advises only going to reputable, licensed nail salons.

"It's essential that equipment is properly sterilised, otherwise nails are vulnerable to fungal infections once the natural barrier to infection, the nail, has been thinned so the false nail can be applied."

:: What can I do?
Baptiste advises that lifting, cracked or broken fake nails should be removed immediately by an expert. She recommends regular, month-long breaks from wearing false nails.

"When you return for an infill to prolong the life of the nails, the technician should always check to ensure you haven't got a fungal infection in between the false nail and the natural nail. This can occur if water gets in between the two layers.

"I advise having one infill, then letting the nails grow out, having them removed and then having a break. Natural nails can then regain strength otherwise they'll become weak, flaky and prone to infection."
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