Skin Care Terminology and Facts Dictionary - P

panthenol:one of the forms of vitamin B, also known as pro-vitamin of Vit B5. For skin, it helps to: 1) promote skin healing, 2) enhance moisture retention - through its function as a humectant, promoting water retention in the skin, 3) soothe and reduce irritation. In hand and nail care products it helps strengthen finger and toe nails - to reduce breakage.
papule:a solid bump on skin 5mm or 0.2 inches in diameter. Skin tags, insect bites, warts and certain skin cancers are examples.
parabens:one of the most common and widely used groups of preservatives. Used in cosmetics, foods and many other applications and industries. Benefits are 1) highly effective, 2) non-irritating, 3) non-sensitizing, 4) compared to other preservatives very little needed to achieve efficacy and 5) broad range of preservative abilities. Occur in nature and naturally in the body. The recent controversy surrounding these preservatives has been generated by only one study, the scientific methodology of which has been called into question. Subsequent studies by academic institutions (private and public), government agencies and industry have not substantiated the claims of adverse effects. In fact paraben safety, efficacy and versatility has been confirmed. The Canadian Cancer Society does not consider parabens a cancer risk, for more vist their website here
paraffin:a wax used at a temperature slightly higher than room temperature. Enriched with hydrating and soothing ingredients, to soften skin. Also used to provide relief from arthritis and related conditions by gently warming the effected area.
pellagra - primary:

disease caused by deficiency of Niacin (Vitamin B-3) in diet - classic triad of symptoms are: diarrhoea, dermatitis and dementia. For skin the clinical features are:

  • The first sign is reddened skin with superficial scaling in areas exposed to sunlight, heat and friction. This may resemble severe sunburn then gradually subsides leaving a dusky brown-red colouration
  • The rash is usually symmetrical with a clear edge between affected and unaffected skin
  • There may be itching or a burning sensation
  • In time the skin becomes thick, hard, scaly and cracked. Bleeding may result in blackened crusts
  • Lesions may occur anywhere on the body especially the hands, arms, lower legs, feet, face, and neck (known as Casal's necklace)
  • Lips, tongue and gums may be sore and peeling


Pellagra can be effectively treated with intravenous or oral niacin or nicotinamide.

An improvement in primary pellagra should be seen within two days of commencing treatment. A high protein diet supplemented with B-group vitamins is needed for complete recovery.

Skin lesions may be treated with topical emollients. Sun protection / defense is important during the recovery phase. Cover up and apply a broad spectrum protectant, such as Sun Defense Shield to all exposed areas daily.

pellagra - secondary:Secondary pellagra occurs when there is enough Niacin (Vitamin B-3) in the diet but its absorption and processing is inhibited. Causes of secondary pellagra include:
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Prolonged diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Carcinoid tumours
  • Hartnup disease (tryptophan metabolism disorder)
  • certain medications
periorbital edema:commonly known as puffy eyes - swelling in eye orbit - area around the eyes. See Puffy Eyes Explained for more information.
pH:pH is defined as the negative logarithm of hydrogen activity. It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH value states the relative quantity of hydrogen ions (H+) contained in a solution. The greater the concentration of H+, the more acidic the solution and the lower the pH. In pure water (H2O) the H+ activity can be considered the same as the H+ concentration. pH measures the degree of acidity or alkalinity relative to the ionization of water. Pure water at 25 degrees Celcius has a pH of 7, which is neutral. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Solutions with a higher H+ than water (pH less than 7)are acidic; solutions with a lower H+ than water (pH greater than 7) are basic or alkaline. A solution with a pH less than 0 is considered a super acid.
photo aging:skin aging induced by UV radiation. Examples of visible signs of UV-induced skin aging are wrinkles and brown spots, the result of prolonged unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
plaque:flat raised area or group of papules (small bumps), usually 5mm or 0.20 inches or larger in diameter.
pleat, atopic:an extra fold that has developed under the eye
pregnancy mask:see melasma
proteolytic:verbal description of a group of enzymes called proteinase. Function through a process called proteolysis, the hydrolysis or breaking down of proteins. In skin care they are commonly derived from fruit, used for their exfoliating properties: Papain derived from papaya, Bromelain derived from pineapple. Found in powdered form or in pads, masks and cleansers. As exfoliants they literally digest dead skin cells.
pustule:a fluid-filled vesicle (spot) containing pus.
pycnogenol:French maritime bark extract - powerful antioxidant that helps 1) improve skin hydration, 2) improve skin elasticity, 3) reduce free radical creation, 4) cell regeneration, 5) cell replication, 6) reduce wrinkles, 7) reduce skin roughness, 8) reuce skin discoloration, 9) fight against UV and photoaging, 10) prevent inflammation

this informational service is brought to you by Nancy K. Brown Aesthetics, Inc.