Debra Jaliman

Dr. Jaliman is a Board Certified Dermatologist, spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, Assistant Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine — where she has taught for over 25 years — and authoritative source in skincare. She has a private dermatology practice on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

We’ve heard a lot about inflammation lately, but it seems like a broad and somewhat murky topic. Since it’s mentioned as a cause of everything from acne to Alzheimer’s, it’s clearly something we should know about. So what is it, exactly? And what do we need to know about it to keep our skin in the best shape possible? We spoke with the lovely and brilliant dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD to find out.

Ayla: Inflammation has become quite the hot topic lately – it’s mentioned in connection with a variety of diseases and conditions, from heart disease to Alzheimer’s to acne. 
DR. JALIMAN: Inflammation has always been a hot topic among scientists, but now, the lay public is becoming more interested. In 2004, Time magazine ran a cover story about inflammation, and more and more, people are realizing that inflammation lies at the root of a lot of medical problems. A lot of people believe it’s what really ages the body.

Ayla: What is inflammation, exactly?
DR. JALIMAN: In our bloodstream, there are white blood cells with inflammatory substances that start a cascade effect when they detect infection. They go out of the bloodstream and into the skin, they create swelling in the skin, your blood vessels dilate, and you get redness. Inflammation can happen anywhere – your brain, your joints, your skin. In skincare, it’s particularly important: with both rosacea and acne, the main problem the body is struggling with is inflammation. In the case of acne, it’s inflammation paired with bacteria.

Ayla: What causes inflammation in the skin, and what are the effects?
DR. JALIMAN: Inflammation can be caused by many different factors. Going outside and getting windburned or sunburned causes inflammation; so do allergic reactions. Using a product containing a chemical you’re sensitive to will also cause inflammation. The classic signs of it are redness and irritated, burning, or itchy skin.

Ayla: What types of products can prevent inflammation?
DR. JALIMAN: Most antioxidants tend to be anti-inflammatory. Resveratrol and green tea are great anti-inflammatories.

Note from Ayla: Luzern Labs Serum Au Vin contains resveratrol, and Luzern Force de Vie Lotion contains green tea.

Use sunscreen every day. Sun exposure will really increase inflammation in the skin, even if you’re sitting by a window. Sunscreens with zinc & titanium dioxide will help cut down on inflammation (zinc, in particular, is a good anti-inflammatory). I tell most of my patients with rosacea to use sunscreens with zinc instead of chemical sunscreens.
Note from Ayla: All of the products containing SPF on use zinc and/or titanium dioxide instead of chemical sunscreens. Luzern's La Defense SPF 30 and Suntegrity BB Cream contain both zinc and green tea.

Ayla: Should any products be avoided?
DR. JALIMAN: People vary completely in their resistance to inflammation. Those of Irish or English descent often have blood vessels very close to the surface and can’t tolerate a lot of acids, but then there are people who could put acids on their faces five times a day and be fine. But generally speaking, if you’re concerned about inflammation:

Be careful with scrubs – if they’re not gentle enough, they can bring up a lot of inflammation on sensitive skin.
Note from Ayla: Luzern Labs Micro-Exfoliant is a good choice for sensitive skin.

If you have sensitive skin, don’t use AHAs, BHAs, or retinoids.

Ayla: What treatments do you typically offer if inflammation has already occurred?
DR. JALIMAN: Lasers can actually help seal up blood vessels and take down inflammation. This works well, for instance, on patients who had a lot of sunburn early on in life or genetically have skin that’s predisposed to inflammation. Aside from that, it’s a question of being careful about the products you choose to put on your skin.

About Dr. Jaliman: Debra is a Board Certified Dermatologist, spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, and Assistant Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She treats actors, models, and newscasters at her private practice in Manhattan, where she is always at the forefront of the latest skincare news, clinical updates, and emerging trends. An authoritative source in dermatology, Dr. Jaliman is frequently quoted in top print publications and featured on national TV shows including 20/20, Dateline, CBS News, NBC News, FOX News, and BBC News.

Learn more about Dr. Jaliman’s impressive background here.

Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.