'Consultations' Category Archives

Allergy tests, are they a waste of money?

Allergy testing has become increasingly popular over the years, in fact we see a lot of people at Elan Medical Skin Clinic who claim that they  have been diagnosed with certain food intolerances. But how reliable are these tests?

The medicines regulator (MHRA) has said there is no scientific basis for tests widely available in health food shops and pharmacies that claim to show food intolerances. In fact the MHRA found that there was “no scientifically valid test to diagnose food intolerance”. Many of the tests confirm the presence of IgG antibodies, which show only that a food has been eaten at some stage, not that someone is intolerant of it!

The MHRA said that attempting to self-diagnose a food intolerance or allergy using a test kit alone could potentially result in a delay in identifying or treating other medical conditions. It added that there was a clear distinction between food intolerance and food allergies, which can be potentially life-threatening.

So what should I do if I think my child has a food allergy?

Before you make big changes to your child’s diet or your own diet, it’s important to proper medical advice, so talk to your GP. If you or your child suffers from severe eczema, there are allergy specialist that you can be referred to on the NHS. If you GP is reluctant to refer, then book in to see Sue Ibrahim at Elan Medical Skin Clinic.

All forms of allergy testing, even when the results seem to be strong, must be considered together with a physical exam and a detailed patient history – both of which can help narrow down what food might be the trigger.

“You have to look at all the pieces of the puzzle because none of the tests by themselves are predictive enough of a diagnosis of a clinical allergy,” Sue Ibrahim says.

The physical exam and patient history also provide important clues, such as symptoms that could indicate whether or not a food allergy is the likely cause.

If you have hay fever you probably don’t need allergy testing as it may be obvious from your symptoms that you’re allergic to pollen. But it’s important to find out the precise cause if your symptoms are more complicated.

For example, perenial rhinitis, – a runny nose all year round – can be triggered by a variety of allergens, such as house dust mites and mould, or a food allergy could be triggered by one of a number of foods in your diet.

Allergy testing can also help monitor a diagnosed allergy. For example, babies and children with certain food allergies often grow out of them.

A test can let the parents and child know they no longer have an allergy to milk or eggs for example, so they no longer have to avoid that food.

Skin-prick testing (SPT) is the most common form of allergy testing and is used to try and identify the specific foods that a patient may be allergic to. Theses tests are only carried out at specialist medical allergy centres and if Sue Ibrahim thinks that you or your child should be referred to for allergy testing, she will refer you.

What is a skin prick test?

Drops of different serums containing individual allergens will be put the on patient’s forearm or back. A medical professional will then use a small needle to prick the skin – this feels like a small poke with a pin – so that the serum goes beneath the skin.

Skin Prick

Skin prick allergy tests are only ever carried out by medical professionals specialist allergy centres.

Then it’s a waiting game. The patient’s skin may react by forming a reddish hive, or wheal, at specific prick spots, indicating that the IgE antibodies in the skin responded to the food allergen in that serum.

A test is considered “positive” for a particular allergen if the diameter of the hive is 3 millimeters or greater than a prick site made with no allergen (known as the negative control). The bigger the hive, the more likely it is that you will react if you eat that food.

Book your appointment today!

News update: Elan Medical Clinic in London

Some of you regular clients will already be aware that Sue Ibrahim, our Dermatology Nurse Consultant is going to be become a grandmother in March. This is very exciting news for her. A a result, Sue has decided to cut out her weekly clinics in London, in order to spend more time with her daughter and grandchild. For this reason we will be taking on no more dermatology patients at the clinic in Whitecross Street, central London. Existing patients will be either transferred over to the clinic in Rayleigh, Essex or will be handed over to another dermatologist based in London. Sue’s decision to cut her hours will not affect her availability at the Rayleigh Clinic.

With a Dermatology Nurse Consultant you know your face is in a safe pair of hands.




Skin changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy is normally a time when you are radiating with excitement, yes? But when your pregnancy complexion doesn’t always reflect that inner joy it can dampen your spirits.

Worry not, for most you will find that these skin issues resolve themselves following the birth of your baby.  Here are some of the most common skin problems women encounter during pregnancy—and what you can do about them.


Pregnancy should be a time of excitement

Skin Sensitivity

Go easier on your skin now that you’re pregnant. You might get red more easily if you use a facial scrub, your normal facial might verge on painful, and the perfumed lotion you wear might irritate your skin (and make you nauseated, but that’s a different story). That’s why many mums-to-be switch to unscented products and start choosing products that do not contain harsh chemicals, preservatives and fragrances. “You certainly don’t want anything causing micro-tears on your skin,” says Sue Ibrahim, our dermatology nurse consultant.  “The more cuts and wounds on your skin, the easier it is for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Ingredients to stay away from in soaps and body washes include sodium laureth sulphate, parabens and fragrance.” These ingredients aren’t just potential irritants—some say they could pose health risks to baby. We say believe it, because (not surprisingly) a lot of products aren’t tested directly on pregnant women. If you are using prescription topicals on your face you need to tell your doctor that you are pregnant as most prescription creams are not licensed for use during pregnancy either. At Elan Medical Skin Clinic we advise our patients to use our Elan Medical DermaCalm range during pregnancy, because they are free from fragrances and preservatives. They also contain mild anti-inflammatory ingredients that can soothe irritated skin.

Acne breakouts during pregnancy

During pregnancy your hormones are all over the place, and that might mean pimples like you had when you were a teenager. The cruel joke, of course, is that many of the treatments that are prescribed for acne cannot be used during pregnancy. Prescription medications like Tetracyclines, Isotretinoin (Roacutane(R)) and the anti-androgen hormone therapies are definite no-nos. And the jury’s out on over-the-counter creams, since they haven’t been tested specifically on pregnant women (yup, you find that a lot with products). Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be absorbed into the bloodstream, so they’re not worth the risk either. “You can safely use lactic acid and biosulfur to treat acne,” Sue Ibrahim says. Don’t touch, pick or squeeze pimples— just wash with a mild cleanser twice a day. “A lot of women find Acne Phototherapy beneficial during pregnancy and it is perfectly safe for both you and the baby.

Sun Sensitivity

Sorry, mums-to-be, but “pregnancy glow” does not refer to a bronzed, sun-kissed complexion. You should actually try to stay out of the sun as much as you can while you’re pregnant. That’s because your surging hormones make you susceptible to dark patches on your skin—known as melasma, or the ‘mask of pregnancy’, which is triggered by sun exposure. So pull out the big floppy hat, find a beach umbrella and be diligent about wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. If you are unlucky and do get Melasma during pregnancy it may resolve on its own following the birth of your baby, if not then you will need the help of a dermatologist I’m afraid.

Stretch marks

Now you’ve got another big skin concern: stretch marks. Anytime someone’s body grows quickly, they’re at risk for stretch marks, so the fact that baby is growing exponentially in there puts you right in the high-risk zone. Of course, not every mum-to-be gets stretch marks. “For most people, whether or not they get stretch marks has to do with genetic predisposition,” says Sue Ibrahim. But you can do your best to head them off by gently exfoliating and thoroughly moisturising your belly, boobs, stomach, hips and thighs as much as you can. As for what moisturizer to use, it’s hard to make a recommendation. “A lot of products make claims,” Sue Ibrahim says. “Some may help but aren’t really proven to prevent stretch marks.” If you are left with troublesome stretch marks following the birth of you baby, it is worth looking into the skin tightening treatments we offer at Elan Medical Skin Clinic.

Skin rashes during pregnancy

If you’ve got red, itchy skin, it’s important not to ignore it. Itchy feet and hands could be a sign of cholestasis of pregnancy, a scary complication that can cause liver problems for baby. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to make sure that’s not causing your rash. Another common pregnancy rash is PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy), which often starts in the abdomen and spreads from there. PUPPP is actually harmless to baby, but it will be completely aggravating for you. Book in for a Dermatology Consultation if you are concerned.

Ageing Skin, Turning Back The Clock

Ageing skin is one of the most common concerns that we see at Elan Medical Skin Clinic. If all those expensive serums and cosmetic creams did what they claim to do then why do the women that use these products still complain that their skin is dry, dull, blotchy and wrinkled?

Let’s understand what causes ageing skin

Many things cause our skin to age. Some things we cannot do anything about; others we can influence. One thing that we cannot change is the natural ageing process. It plays a key role. With time, we all get visible lines on our face. It is natural for our face to lose some of its youthful fullness. We notice our skin becoming thinner and drier. Our genes largely control when these changes occur. The medical term for this type of ageing is “intrinsic ageing.”

Reverse the signs of ageing

Let’s look good for our age

We can influence another type of ageing that affects our skin. Our environment and lifestyle choices can cause our skin to age prematurely. The medical term for this type of ageing is “extrinsic ageing.”

  • The sun – UVA and UVB rays are present 365 days per year. USA rays can penetrate through four inches of glass. So think about this when you are sitting next to a window in the office or driving in your car.
  • Smoking –  I know, we are all told how smoking is bad for your health but smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. Why, because the toxins in cigarette smoke replace the oxygen content of your blood.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol is rough on the skin. It dehydrates the skin, and in time, damages the skin. This can make us look older. So drink alcohol in moderation and for every alcoholic drink, drink two glasses of water. This will help to re-hydrate you.
  • Unhealthy diet – Findings from a few studies suggest that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin ageing. Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate ageing.
  • Lack of exercise – Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, may give the skin a more-youthful appearance.
  • Over Moisturising – Believe it or not, over moisturising the skin will send your skin cells to sleep. When your skin is slightly dry, your skin cells react by producing more collagen. If you over moisturise the skin, you will be inhibiting your own collagen production. Use a sunscreen in the morning instead! Mind you, it needs to be a UVB and UVA Sunscreen of at least factor 30 for it to really protect your skin.
  • Skin Scrubs –  Scrubbing your skin clean can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin ageing process. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin. Some anti-ageing products prescribed by a dermatologist may burn or sting. When using a prescription anti-ageing product, this can be okay.

Even people who already have signs of premature skin ageing can benefit from making lifestyle changes. By protecting your skin from the sun, you give it a chance to repair some of the damage. Smokers who stop often notice that their skin looks healthier. By taking some preventive actions, we can slow the effects that this type of ageing has on our skin.

There is so much conflicting advice out there

If signs of ageing skin bother you, you may ask a beauty therapist for advice. However, this may result in you spending a lot of money on treatments and cosmetic creams that make no difference to your skin at all.  Why not consult a dermatologist instead? Yes, you will have to pay for a consultation, but you may end up spending a lot less money in the long run. Why? Because prescription skincare contains the right amount of active ingredients that are designed to penetrate deeper into the skin. New treatments and less-invasive procedures for smoothing wrinkles, tightening skin, and improving one’s complexion are giving many people younger-looking skin.

This woman was treated with Restylane skin fillers by Sue Ibrahim. Photos taken 3 weeks apart

Treated by Sue Ibrahim, these photographs were taken four weeks apart.

If you are worried about the effects the ageing process is having on your skin, then why not book in to see Sue Ibrahim. With over thirty years working within the medical and cosmetic dermatology sector, Sue has helped thousands of women and men improve the texture and appearance of their skin. Her professional but friendly approach is well known throughout the industry. Sue will never sell you any treatment that you do not need. As a Nurse Consultant in Dermatology she has won a number of industry awards and constantly receives a string of positive reviews about the treatment and service she provides.

Book your consultation today!


Help, my child has eczema!

Eczema, also known as ‘atopic eczema’ or ‘atopic dermatitis’, is a skin allergy/condition causing inflammation and intense irritation. When it occurs in young babies and children it can be really upsetting for whole family.

Eczema symptoms tend to be caused by dry skin. Skin that is affected by eczema gets sore and broken when it is scratched. It can look wet and may bleed. Scratching is hard to avoid since the main distressing symptom of eczema is unbearable itching, but once the skin gets broken and cracked, infections can set in, causing even more discomfort.

baby with eczema

Help, my child has eczema!

What Does Atopy/Atopic Mean?

There are many types of eczema and dermatitis:

  • Atopic Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis
  • Discoid Eczema
  • Contact Dermatitis

Atopy, or being atopic, means having a genetic tendency for your immune system to make increased levels of IgE antibodies to certain allergens. An atopic individual is likely to have more than one allergic condition during their lifetime, such as eczema, asthma, hay fever or food allergy.

Can Food Allergies Cause Eczema?

Children are born with the tendency to have eczema, and many things can make their eczema worse. These are known as eczema ‘triggers’. Eczema in children can have various triggers, of which food can be one, especially in babies. However, foods are not the primary cause of eczema.

How can we help at Elan Medical Skin Clinic?

We all understand the pressures that GPs are under. One of the biggest problems is the pressure of TIME. At Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex our Dermatology Nurse Consultant, Sue Ibrahim, has over 30 years experience in helping children and their families cope with the day to day struggles of coping with eczema. She can help you identify the trigger factors in your child and thoroughly discuss the treatment options open to you. No, she cannot cure eczema but she can work with your GP to ensure that a management programme is in place and that exacerbations of eczema are dealt with quickly and effectively.

How to help us diagnose an allergy

The first step in managing an allergy is identifying the cause(s) of the problem. Diagnosing allergy can be difficult since the symptoms may be similar to other conditions. If you think your child may be allergic to something and do not know what it is, you should start to keep a record of the symptoms. In particular, the following information may help us make a diagnosis

  • Do the flare ups occur at any particular time of the day?
  • Does your child only get symptoms at certain times of the year?
  • Does your child suffer more at night time or during the day?
  • Do the flare ups occur when your child is in the house as well as outside?
  • Does exposure to animals bring on the symptoms?
  • Do you think that any food or drink brings on the symptoms?
  • Do the symptoms occur every time your child comes into contact with the allergen?
  • Do the symptoms improve when you are on holiday?

If you are at the end of your tether, and would like a consultation to discus your child’s eczema, our friendly team are here to help. Contact us today!

Acne, you don’t have to live with it!

Acne is a very common skin problem characterised by blackheads and whiteheads and pus-filled spots. Although we tend to associate acne as a teenage problem, here at Elan Medical Skin Clinic, we see acne in men and women of all ages.

Acne can vary in severity from a few spots on the face to quite a significant problem on the face, chest, shoulders and back.

It is not just the acne that can have a significant impact on self-confidence, the scarring and altered skin pigmentation that is left behind when the spots clear up can also cause a lot of distress.

Aacne treatments at Elan Medical Skin Clinics

Acne, you don’t have to live with it!

Unfortunately, many doctors can trivialise the effects acne can have on a person’s confidence, self-esteem and quality of life. Having spent over 30 years working within medical dermatology, Sue Ibrahim is passionate about treating acne early and effectively as she fully understands the consequences of living this spots on a daily basis. At Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex, we take the time to listen to your concerns and devise a management plan to get your skin looking great again!

What causes acne?

The oil-producing (sebaceous) glands are particularly sensitive to certain hormones present in both males and females. These hormones stimulate the production of excess oil. At the same time, the dead skin cells lining the pores clog up the follicles. As a result, there is a build up of oil, producing blackheads and whiteheads. Acne bacteria lives on everyone’s skin and in those prone to acne, the build up of oil creates an ideal environment in which the bacteria can multiply. This triggers inflammation and the formation of red, pus-filled spots that can be quite uncomfortable.

Some acne can be caused by medication given for other medical conditions or by certain contraceptive pills or injections. Some tablets taken by body-builders contain hormones that can trigger acne and other problems.

How will your acne be diagnosed?

There are several varieties of acne that Sue Ibrahim will be able to diagnose at your dermatology consultation. We have extensive experience in dealing with all types of acne. We will discuss the treatment options available to you that can be very effective in preventing the formation of new spots and scarring.

How can acne be treated?

Acne treatments fall into the following categories:

  • Treatment with topical creams (prescription and/or non-prescription)
  • Treatment with oral antibiotics alongside topical creams
  • Treatment with oral hormones that counteract the hormones that can trigger acne
  • Isotretinoin tablets (Often referred to by the trade name Roaccutane (R))

There are also a number of cosmetic dermatology treatments that can help, although these treatments are not usually offered on the NHS:

And there are treatments that can help with scarring:

Many thousands of people have been treated by Sue Ibrahim for their acne at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex. It is our philosophy to work alongside your own GP, or a Consultant Dermatologist to provide the best possible outcome for our patients.

If you are fed up with suffering from acne or any other skin condition, why not book your dermatology consultation now!


Botox, what is it and is it safe for me?

What are BOTOX ® injections?

BOTOX ® is the brand name of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In large amounts, this toxin can cause a form of muscle paralysis known as botulism, which is usually associated with food poisoning. Even though one of the most serious complications of botulism is paralysis, scientists have discovered a way to use it to human advantage. Small, diluted (weakened) amounts can be directly injected into specific muscles, causing controlled relaxation of the muscles.

Frown lines? What frown lines?

The FDA approved such usage in the late 1980s when it was discovered that BOTOX® could stop ailments such as blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking) and strabismus (lazy eye). Cosmetic doctors and cosmetic nurses have been using BOTOX® for years to successfully treat wrinkles and facial creases. BOTOX ® is approved for treatment of frown lines on the forehead, crow’s feet (lines around the eye), and axillary hyperhidrosis (increased sweating of the armpits). Within the past few years, new products that have similar preparations have been introduced into the UK market and have been well-received by patients.

We will refer to the toxin as BOTOX® from here on out, but please know that this includes all of the formulations that we use at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex :

How does BOTOX ® work?

BOTOX ® blocks the signal from the nerve to the muscles. The injected muscle can no longer contract (tighten) as forcefully, which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften.

BOTOX ® can be used on the forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, bunny lines (lines in the nose), chin (for dimpling), skin bands on the neck, and around the mouth (for smoker’s lines and down-turned corners of the mouth). Wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity often will not respond to BOTOX®. It is important to re-emphasise that BOTOX® is NOT a facial filler (that is, it does not fill existing wrinkles) – it merely relaxes the muscles that are creating those wrinkles.

Show yourself some love in 2018

Woman hugs herself. If you have a skin condition that is causing you distress, talk to Sue from Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh, Essex.

Fit your own oxygen mask first in 2018. If you have a skin condition that is causing you distress, talk to Sue from Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh, Essex.

In a mid-air emergency, we are always told to fit our own oxygen mask first. This is to ensure we are able to help our loved ones in a calm, considerate and efficient manner – whilst being able to breathe ourselves!

It may sound selfish but it is absolutely essential – and not just in a life or death situation. If our own wellbeing isn’t being cared for, our ability to give our love to others is diminished, says nurse consultant in dermatology, Sue Ibrahim.

If we are dealing with a skin condition on top of all of life’s other stresses and strains, chances are the skin condition will worsen if it is ignored or put to the bottom of our list of things to sort. Does this sound familiar?

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Platelet Rich Plasma skin therapy available now at Elan Medical Skin Clinics

Platelet Rich Plasma skin therapy is now available at Elan Medical Skin Clinics in Rayleigh, Essex and central London.

Platelet Rich Plasma skin therapy is now available at Elan Medical Skin Clinics in Rayleigh, Essex and central London.

Soften wrinkles, smooth your skin’s texture and tone, and promote the growth of collagen with Platelet Rich Plasma skin therapy at Elan Medical Skin Clinics in Rayleigh, Essex and central London.

PRP skin therapy is the latest rejuvenation technique to be added to our comprehensive list of facial treatments. As well as skin rejuvenation, PRP stem cell injection therapy is ideal for curbing hair loss and treating osteoarthritis of the shoulder, knee and ankle joints.

We are delighted to introduce our experienced, award-winning practitioner who will be performing PRP therapy at Elan Medical Skin Clinic. Dr Alex Tran has been a GP for 17 years and over the last five years he has developed a keen interest in aesthetic medicine.

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Silhouette Soft thread lifting now at Elan Medical Skin Clinic

Award-winning GP, Dr Alex Tran, joins Elan Medical Skin Clinics in central London and Essex and offers Silhouette Soft thread lifting

Award-winning GP, Dr Alex Tran, joins Elan Medical Skin Clinics in central London and Essex and offers Silhouette Soft thread lifting

Silhouette Soft thread lifting at Elan Medical Skin Clinics in Essex and central London offers transformational, natural results – without the surgery, scars or time off work. This facial rejuvenation technique is non-surgical, minimally invasive and redefines your facial contours immediately and with lasting results.

Treatment reduces the appearance of sagging around the jaw line and is ideal for men and women looking for a safe, convenient alternative to traditional facelift surgery. You will enjoy subtle changes around your eyebrows, cheeks, jaw line neck and facial contours and the Silhouette Soft thread lifting treatment is carried out by our fully qualified, award-winning GP, Dr Alex Tran.

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