Stress medicine?

Your epidermis is showing signs of stress, and that could be a good thing -- at least in small doses. So says a new UCSF study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (which sounds like it involves private eyes for the complexion, but, well, it probably doesn't). Research on two groups of mice with skin irritations showed that acute -- but brief -- psychological stress promoted healing. The stressed mice (put in a cramped enclosure for a few days) showed "significantly reduced inflammation and faster healing," according to a news release on the study.

Small doses of stress could be good for your skin, new UCSF research shows. (Susan Pollard/Staff archives)
Small doses of stress could be good for your skin, new UCSF research shows. (Susan Pollard/Staff archives) ( Susan Pollard )

It has to do with glucocorticoids -- the name of naturally occurring steroid hormones that I dare you to say five times fast -- but be advised these same hormones are apparently bad if you have prolonged stress and will then damage the skin. So you have to follow the Goldilocks principle and get just the right amount. I bet she had nice skin.

Whatever you do, don't stress over it. Or do, but keep it quick.

An app a day ...

Our chronically stressed-out lives can lead to worse things than skin problems. It's heartbreaking to hear of frazzled parents forgetting a sleeping baby in the back seat of a hot car, or looking away when a child nears a swimming pool. And while technology gets used for lots of lame things these days (did you know there's an app called "Is it dark outside?"), some is being designed to help prevent tragedies.


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One app at www.rememberthekids.com sends an alert to your phone to check the back seat when you arrive at your destination. A company called Tomy International makes a "smart" car seat that has temperature sensors and transmits a warning if the seat gets too hot. Aquatic Safety Concepts just came out with the "iSwimband," www.iswimbands.com, a head or wristband kids can wear that sends an alarm if a child falls in the water.

All these are great -- as backups. But as we've learned with other tech solutions to life's problems, they won't replace common sense. If I want to know if it's dark outside, I'll just look out the window.

Delicious donations

The good people at Lend A Hand Foundation in Oakland are dangling an ice cream carrot so you'll donate school supplies for their 15th annual school backpack drive, www.lendahandfoundation.org. Bring a pack (or $10 worth of school supplies) to Fentons Creamery in Oakland from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 24 and get a free petite scoop of ice cream. Or any time during August, go to Fentons and order Myrtle's Special Chip & Cookie Sundae and 25 percent of the price will go to the backpack drive. It's the ultimate win-win, with a cherry on top.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com, or follow her on Twitter @GiveEmHill.