Stressed Out Skin:

Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"

As a ballerina going from baseline to ballistic in "Black Swan," Natalie Portman strives for perfection in appearance and ability. Her mental state is nowhere near perfect, filled with anxiety fueled by her overbearing mother, played by Barbara Hershey. Ultimately, Portman's skin betrays her.
Whether real or imagined, Portman's character develops scratch covered rashes, and picks at her nails and fingers, drawing blood. Eczema is a common condition for adults. Unlike children, for whom eczema can represent a food allergy, in adults there are two major triggers, dry skin and stress. The skin develops itch and is paired with its dancing partner: scratching. This increases itchiness, pirouetting into a vicious cycle.

We've heard of dry, cracked skin, but this is ridiculous! For many, moisturizing the wet skin can restore the balance. Effectively hydrated skin improves function like a worn in pair of ballet slippers. Yet prescription options are often necessary.

High strength cortisone creams can reduce the dance's drama, but can also impair perfection by potentially thinning the skin. An alternative to the classic style are the newer, non-cortisone anti-inflammory creams. Elidel and Protopic can calm inflammation without causing atrophy.

Potentially, Portman's poise and perfection can be restored. Though may we suggest she leave Mama Hershey and move out on her own? Just a stress reduction tip: Doctor's orders!

On a side note, are we the only ones to notice Barbara Hershey's resemblance to another 80's movie icon altered by cosmetic procedures gone awry? The director of "Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky, last helmed "The Wrestler" starring Skinnies award winner Mickey Rourke. Perhaps Aronofsky's next flick will feature these two in a spooky tango...

Runner-up, Stressed Out Skin:
Anne Hathaway in "Love and Other Drugs"

In this recent romance, Hathaway foreshadows her health issues by showing a doctor a blemish on her breast. Fearing it represents some sort of cancer, her stress is relieved by his diagnosis: a bug bite. Many patients are anxious about new and changing lesions, a situation not helped by scary web searches.

© 1996-2011 Vail Reese M.D.

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