Monday, August 21, 2017

Four Things to Do to Keep Your Skin Healthy

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Summer is not the only time of year we should be mindful of taking good care of the vessels of our intellects and personalities. Without further ado...

1. Avoid sun overexposure.
The sun is the leading cause of all kinds of skin damage, from sunburn to wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. It’s the ultraviolet radiation emitted by our sun that damages the skin. UV rays break down the collagen and elastin in skin; these chemicals keep your skin plump and smooth. When collagen and elastin decrease in skin, the skin becomes wrinkled.

Sunlight also enlarges melanocytes, pigment-containing cells. A smaller dose of sun may make your skin tan, but larger amounts can lead to patches of brown spots called age spots.

Another thing the sun does to your skin is release free radicals. These are harmful chemicals, unstable atoms, often oxygen, that have an unpaired electron. This imbalance in electric charge makes the free radicals highly chemically reactive. Free radicals can damage DNA, and this can lead to aging of body systems and development of skin cancers. (NOTE: Free radicals are also created by smoking and other environmental factors.)

The best way to avoid sun damage to skin is to avoid overexposure. Stay out of the sun during mid-day when the radiation is strongest. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB and has an SPF (sun protective factor) 30 or greater. Apply sunscreen every two hours; more frequently if you are sweating heavily or in water. You should also wear protective clothing and a hat to protect your scalp and face.

While some skin care products contain antioxidant ingredients to help fight the effects of free radicals, the best defense is to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables containing vitamins C and E. Good dietary sources of antioxidants include berries, carrots, spinach and broccoli.

2. Stop making faces.

Did your mother say, “Stop making the face or it will grow like that!” when you scowled? Mine did. Maybe our Moms were right. While smiling and frowning are ways we communicate, these movements stretch the skin. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and does not snap back into shape as readily as when we were younger. Compounded with the loss of elasticity produced by sun damage to skin, facial movements can lead to the formation of wrinkles.

3. Don’t smoke, or quit smoking.

Did you know that smoking damages skin as well as lungs? Smoker’s skin doesn’t heal from small injuries such as nicks and pimples as well as non-smoker’s skin does. This is because smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, restricting the availability of oxygen and nutrients that the skin needs to nourish and repair itself.

Smoker’s skin wrinkles more easily that non-smoker’s skin. Smoking causes elastic skin fibers to thicken, which will increase sagging. The more you smoke, the worse the damage to your skin.

Please consider not smoking, or quitting if you do smoke. It will not only benefit your lungs, it will help your skin stay healthier.

4. Avoid skin irritants.

Your skin can be sensitive or allergic to any number of chemicals, including ammonia, bleach, laundry detergent, and cleaning products. Contact dermatitis is reddening and scaling of the skin. But some people experience burns from contact with these chemicals.

The best way to protect your skin from irritants is to avoid them, for instance by wearing gloves to clean house or wash dishes. If you have mild contact dermatitis, moisturizing your skin will make it feel better. If you have more problematic irritations, try using an antihistamine or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen). If the problem is severe, please contact your healthcare professional.

It is always a good idea to take care of the skin you're in!

Image Credits: Pixabay

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