Your skin is the body’s largest organ and is made of three layers, which helps protect the inside organs and acts as a waterproof, insulating shield against extreme temperatures, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. To take care of your skin, you should check all areas regularly for new and changing moles, and always use a sunscreen with sufficient SPF, even when it is cloudy outside.
- A dead layer of skin is shed every 24 hours and renews itself every 28 days.
- Goosebumps are little pimples that help keep a layer of warm air all over the body.
- The skin’s appearance and texture is a good indicator of your health such as – when it is dry, this may be an indicator of an underactive thyroid, or if dark areas appear on the neck, this may be a sign of diabetes.
- All people have the same pigment that is responsible for their skin color, which is melanin.
- As we grow older, the skin sheds its cells more slowly, which is why children have a more rosy and dewy look.
- Age spots are really sunspots. These brown spots are a result of the amount of exposure to the sun and subsequent damage to the skin.
- Melanomas do not always have color – if you find abnormalities, i.e., moles, which can be dark or light in color, or irregular in shape, be sure to tell your doctor or dermatologist.
There are various skin conditions that may make your skin look or feel unpleasant:
- Dermatitis: also known as eczema, is skin inflammation with symptoms of swollen, reddened, itchy skin.
- Psoriasis: a buildup of rough, dead skin cells that accumulate, forming thick silvery scales that are itchy, dry, and with red patches and can be painful.
- Tinea Infections: these include terms known as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch, which are all caused by a fungal infection on the top layer of the skin and results in patches of itchy skin.
- Hives: raised itchy red bumps of different sizes that appear and then disappear on the skin. Hives are usually caused by allergic reactions to food or medications.
- Lice: tiny wingless parasitic insects that feed on blood and can cause intense itching with small red bumps. Infestations are caused by close contact with an infected person.
- Scabies: caused by tiny, eight-legged burrowing mites that results in intense itching where it burrows. It is contagious and spreads through close contact.
- Acne: occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells and usually appear on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.
What are the treatments for skin conditions?
Once diagnosed with a skin condition, there are various treatments available for you, including:
- Corticosteroid Creams. applied to the affected area of the skin condition
- Oral Antihistamines. for allergies or hives
- Light Therapy. exposing the skin to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light and usually requires multiple sessions
- Topical Anesthetics. these contain lidocaine or benzocaine
- Ointment and Lotions. contain menthol, camphor, or calamine.
- Benzoyl Peroxide and Sulfur. are the usual active ingredients in over-the-counter lotions used to treat acne
- Tretinoin. derived from Vitamin A and is in prescription medications available to treat acne
- Antibiotics. may be necessary for severe skin conditions that do not respond to the OTCs or prescription cream and lotions
- Laser and Light Therapy. treat the deeper layers of skin without damaging the outer layer of the skin.
What can you do for healthy skin?
Prevent premature aging and various skin problems by:
- Protecting yourself from the sun: long-term exposure to the sun causes wrinkles and age spots and increases the risk of skin cancer.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of a minimum 15. Re-apply regularly and more often if you are swimming or perspiring.
- Look for shade and avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Not Smoking: smoking can cause the skin to look older and contribute to wrinkles. Smoking causes the tiny blood vessels on the outer layers of the skin to narrow, thus decreases blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the skin. Smoking damages the collagen and elastin, which gives skin strength and elasticity.
- Treating your skin gently: during your daily hygiene routine:
- Take short baths or showers. Extended periods of time in hot water removes the essential oils of your skin. Use warm water instead.
- Use gentle soaps as strong soaps and detergents can strip the natural oils from your skin.
- Shave carefully. Protect your skin by apply shaving cream, lotion, or gel.
- Pat dry after bathing or showering instead of hard rubbing since gently blotting or patting your skin will allow some moisture to remain on your skin.
- Moisturize your skin by using a good moisturizer for your skin type and even better with an SPF.
- Eating Healthy: a healthy diet can help maintain healthy skin. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid processed or refined carbohydrates. Fatty foods can promote the aging of the skin. Clinical data is limited, but it seems that antioxidant-rich foods would have the most benefit for skin:
- Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits
- Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
- Beans, peas, and lentils
- Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish
- Managing Stress: uncontrolled stress can make the skin more sensitive and cause skin breakouts.
- Seeking Professional Advice: if you have an abnormality on your skin and feel concerned, see your pharmacist for advice on over-the-counter medications or consult with your physician.
For more information about skin care, visit the following sites: