How to get Healthy Skin
Skin and Hair Health
. . . Your appearance, skin and hair looks are of course very important to you. At the same time, your skin and hair does special jobs that supports life. Skin protects your inside organs from injury, bacteria, and viruses. Your skin, hair, and sweat glands help control body temperature. Body hair also alerts you to heat and touch. You can take steps to keep your skin and hair healthy. You can also look to your skin and hair for clues to your overall health. And, as a bonus, good skin and hair care will help you feel your best.
Caring for your Skin and Hair
Good skin and hair care involves:
- eating a variety of healthy foods, rich in vitamins and nutrients
- keeping physically active, managing stress, practicing sun safety
- limiting alcohol, not using tobacco, and other recreational drugs
- drinking plenty of water
Unhealthy behaviors can take a toll on skin and hair. For instance, habits like smoking and sunbathing dry out skin and cause wrinkles.
Caring for your Skin
Follow this simple skin care routine to keep your skin healthy and radiant:
- Bathe in warm — not hot water using mild cleansers that don’t irritate. Wash gently — don’t scrub
- Keep skin from drying out by drinking plenty of water and using gentle moisturizers, lotions, or creams.
Practice Sun Safety for Healthy Skin
Sun exposure puts you at greater risk of skin cancer, whatever your skin color or ethnicity. To protect your skin:
- Limit exposure to the midday sun (10 am-4 pm)
- Wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and with both UVA and UVB protection
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths
Check your skin for sun damage. Tell your doctor about changes on the skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in an old growth. Ask your doctor how often you should have a clinical skin exam to check for signs of skin cancer. Ask your doctor if the medicines you are taking can affect your skin. For instance, blood thinners and aspirin can cause you to bruise more easily. Some antibiotics and vitamins make skin sunburn more easily.
Years of sun exposure can cause flat, brown spots called “liver” or age spots to appear on your face, hands, arms, back, and feet. They are not harmful. But if the look of age spots bothers you, ask your doctor about skin-lightening creams, laser therapy, and cryo-therapy (freezing). Use sunscreen to prevent more age spots.
Skin and Hair are your Clues to Overall Health
Healthy skin and hair are signs of good overall health. Some skin and hair changes can signal a health problem. For instance, a “butterfly” rash on your face can be a sign of lupus. Distinct rashes appear with some viruses, such as the measles and chicken pox. An allergic reaction can cause hives, redness, and itching. Diabetes and thyroid disease can cause hair loss. Knowing how your skin and hair normally look and feel will help you notice changes to ask your doctor.
Common Skin Complaints
Sensitive skin - Women with sensitive skin may have itching, burning, stinging, or tightness after using products such as soaps or makeup. Women of color are more prone to sensitive skin. Look for products made for sensitive skin. Talk with your doctor if these products don’t help.
Pimples (acne) - Pimples form when hair follicles under your skin clog up. Although most common in the teen years, many women get pimples into their 50s. Acne also is common during pregnancy and menopause, when hormones are changing. Medicines, such as birth control pills, can also lead to breakouts.
The cause of acne is unclear. We do know that dirt, stress, and foods do not cause acne. But stress and certain foods, such as chocolate or greasy foods, can make acne worse. Acne also appears to run in some families.
To care for acne, use mild soaps, avoid touching your skin, and wear oil-free makeup. Your doctor may also suggest an acne medicine. If so, ask about the side effects. Do not take isotretinoin (Accutane®) if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it can hurt your baby.
Dry skin - Skin can dry out and become rough, scaly, and itchy for a number of reasons. Dry skin can be caused by:
- dry air
- overuse of soaps, antiperspirants, and perfumes
- not drinking enough water
- the sun
Doctors report a higher rate of dry skin in African Americans. Try the skin care routine on pages 305 and 306. If dry skin does not improve, talk to your doctor. Sometimes, dry skin signals a health problem, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Cellulite - Cellulite is fat that collects just below the surface of your skin, giving it a dimpled look. Women of all sizes can get it. Once formed, you cannot get rid of cellulite. No amount of weight loss, exercise, or massage reduces cellulite. Spa wraps, creams, and vitamins also do not help. Liposuction can make it look even worse. To prevent cellulite, try eating well, being active, and not smoking.
Stretch marks - Rapid growth and weight gain, such as with puberty and pregnancy, can stretch your skin, leaving pink, red, or brown streaks on your breasts, stomach, hips, buttocks, or thighs. Medicines, such as cortisones, and health problems, like diabetes or Cushing’s syndrome, also can cause stretch marks. Creams that claim to prevent stretch marks are of little value. Yet stretch marks often fade over time. Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-ay.
Makeup Cosmetic Practices
Good skin care is the foundation of beauty. However, many women enjoy using makeup / cosmetics. If you use makeup, follow these tips:
- Read the labels for product content and safety information.
- Wash your hands before applying makeup.
- Throw out products if the color changes or gets an odor.
- Throw out mascara after 3 months.
- Keep product containers tightly closed when not in use.
- Don’t share your makeup.
- Call your doctor if a product causes skin changes like itching and rash — you may be having an allergic reaction.
Tattoos and Permanent Makeup
Tattoos are colored inks inserted under your skin. Permanent makeup is a tattoo made to look like eyebrow, lip, and eye liner. If you like tattoos, keep these health risks in mind:
- Needles that are not properly cleaned can pass infections, like HIV from person to person.
- Allergic reactions to tattoo ink are rare but can happen.
- Also, poorly applied tattoos can be costly to remove.
- Temporary tattoos and other skin-staining products, including henna dyes, can cause allergic reactions.
- Henna is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for use as a hair dye.
Beauty Tips to Live-by
Skin or hair care products claiming to reduce wrinkles or enhance shine are tempting to try. But keep in mind, the best beauty tips are free and up to you to follow. Living a healthy lifestyle and practicing sun safety can have you radiating beauty from both outside and within.
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