Keeping Skin Healthy
There are several important yet simple steps that help to keep normal skin healthy:
- Cleansing with a mild baby soap and warm (not hot) water and toning with a mild lotion. Hot water and long baths or showers remove oils from your skin. Avoid soaps containing perfumes or dyes. These can trigger allergic responses and irritate the skin. When drying your skin, avoid rubbing and pat it dry instead so that some moisture remains. While it is still damp, moisturize your skin with an oil or cream. The stronger your soap, the more likely it is to strip oil from your skin.
- Protection from the sun is key because ultraviolet light, invisible but intense rays from the sun, damages your skin, causing deep wrinkles, dry rough skin, liver spots, and more serious disorders such as noncancerous and cancerous skin tumours.
- No smoking! Smoking accelerates aging and increases wrinkles. Just ten years of smoking can produce noticeable changes in the skin of young adults. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin, reducing blood flow and depleting the skin of oxygen and important nutrients like Vitamin A.
- Moisturize regularly to keep your skin supple and hydrated. The moisturizer that is right for you will be the result of trial and error. Factors such as skin type, age, and whether you are prone to specific conditions such as acne need to be considered when choosing the right moisturizer for your skin.
- Shave with care because shaving can cause skin irritations, especially if your skin is thin, dry, or particularly sensitive. For a healthier shave:
- Shave after a warm bath or shower or press a warm wet wash cloth to your skin to soften the hair before you begin.
- Never shave dry skin. Always apply shaving cream, lotion, or gel to protect and lubricate your skin before shaving.
- Use a clean, sharp razor.
- Shave in the direction of your hair's growth, not against it.
- Rinse your skin afterwards with warm water.
- Avoid lotions that contain either ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. These products may seem cooling, but they do not soothe irritated skin because the alcohol evaporates rapidly.
The Case for Clean Skin: Skin that is not kept clean is prone to a number of problems. Pathogenic organisms thrive on the dead cells that continuously slough off the epidermis and mix with sweat, oil, and dust to build up on your skin's surface. If this layer is not washed away, it is decomposed by bacterial flora, producing a foul smell. Other functions of the skin are impaired when it is excessively dirty:
- It can be more easily damaged
- The release of antibacterial compounds is reduced
- There is a greater risk of developing infections
The skin is inhabited by microorganisms that include yeasts (fungi) and bacteria. These microorganisms cannot be removed by any amount of washing. Typically, there are approximately 50 million individual bacteria per square inch of human skin. On oily surfaces such as the face, this number may rise to over 500 million. It's important to recognize that these microorganisms keep each other in check and are a natural part of healthy skin. Antibiotics can disturb this natural balance by killing microbes and allowing an overgrowth of yeast.
- Oily skin. When sebaceous glands are overactive, producing too much of a naturally healthy skin lubricant called sebum, the result can be oily skin. Oily skin tends to be heavy and thick in nature, characterized by shininess, blemishes, and pimples. Although the skin's oils should be kept at a minimum, moderately oily skin is not necessarily bad since it is less prone to wrinkling and other signs of aging. The downside of oily-skin is that the skin can be particularly susceptible to clogged pores or blackheads and the accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface. Oily skin can also have a sallow and rough texture with large, noticeable pores everywhere except around the eyes and neck. The trick to treating oily skin is to reduce the excess sebum without removing too much of the skin's lipid layer. Over-zealous degreasing can trigger increased sebum secretion, making the situation worse. The best approach to cleaning oily skin is to use a solution of a mild synthetic detergent that contains no oils, waxes, or other lipid agents. Such products safely remove the oily residue and debris from the skin's surface and should be used on a regular basis for them to work effectively. A light moisturizer can be used to counteract any tendency in the cleanser to dry the skin.
- Diet. Your skin tends to reflect what you eat. What you put into your body is just as important to skin health as what you put onto your skin. Try to eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, and drink plenty of pure water every day.
- Monitoring Your Skin. Ask a loved one to check your skin from head to toe at least once a year. You should do this more often if you have moles and freckles and spots. Always ask you doctor to check any skin changes that concern you.