All about the skin you’re in

 

crutchfieldsquareConclusion of a three-part column

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is the protective fortress that keeps the rest of you safe from the dangers of the outside environment. Avoid these skin sins and enjoy happier and healthier skin.

 

advice.07

Don’t fail to sun protect

Be sun smart and sun safe and protect the skin from the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 that also contains broad spectrum UVA protection.

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 1-2 hours, especially if actively perspiring or swimming. Also, whenever possible, use sun-protective clothing (Coolibar.com) that has a tight fabric weave to block the sun with broad-brimmed hats.

For babies, shield them from the sun with protective clothing and use sunscreen after age 3-6 months. It is important to teach children the importance of sun protection. There is an excellent children’s book dedicated to teaching children about sun called Little Charles Hits a Home Run for Sun Safety available on Amazon.com. Disclaimer: I wrote the book and proceeds go to charity.

 

Don’t skimp on the sunscreen

As I mentioned, use sun-protective clothing whenever possible, but most people under-apply sunscreen. Whatever amount of sunscreen you normally apply to your skin, double that amount to give yourself adequate protection from harmful UV rays.

 

Don’t tan

Tanning either from lying unprotected on the beach or from using harmful indoor tanning beds is bad. Ultraviolet radiation damages your DNA and greatly increases your risk of developing potentially deadly skin cancer.

A tan is the body’s way of saying it is in great danger, and it is trying to put up a protective shield to block out harmful ultraviolet radiation. A tan is not a sign of good health; it is a sign of your body screaming out that it is being damaged and needs help.

Unfortunately, social conventions lead some to believe that a tan is a desirable. If the tanned look is what one wants, consider the sunless tanning products to get the look you want and avoid skin cancer later.

 

Don’t irritate the skin

Don’t use abrasive skin-cleaning tools, loofa pads or harsh cleansers. Your skin will naturally exfoliate itself. The whole exfoliation trend is mostly a bunch of hype designed to sell us products that we don’t need.

Wash regularly and gently with a cotton washcloth and use a non-detergent or low-detergent cleanser like Dove or Vanicream cleansing bars. Scrubbing your skin is a “no-no.” Your skin will love you for it.

 

Don’t forget to moisturize

There is nothing that causes more havoc on the skin than dryness. Dry skin can get cracked and irritated, which limits the skin’s ability to be a protective barrier. Irritated skin can become inflamed and damaged.

Use a skin moisturizing lotion twice per day, applying liberally, especially after any bath or shower. Use one rich in lipids and ceramides like Cerave moisturizing cream. Moisturizing is a simple thing you can do with one of the greatest positive impacts on skin health. Your skin will thank you for it.

 

Don’t smoke

The overall harmful health effects of smoking are well known, but many don’t realize the terrible effects smoking has on the skin. A lifetime of smoking will age the skin 20 years. Besides tanning, there is not anything more damaging you can do to your skin.

 

Don’t let stress get the best of you

Stress, in small amounts, is a normal part of life, but sometimes the amount of stress can be constant and overwhelming and become dangerously harmful. Your skin will look terrible when you are under stress. It truly is a window to show the world what is going on the inside.

If you feel that stress is getting the best of you, talk to your doctor for help. You will feel much better and look great.

 

Don’t pop pimples

We have all done it. We are all tempted, but this is one thing to avoid for better-looking skin. Squeezing blemishes causes scarring and long-lasting dark spots. If you want your skin to look its best, just don’t pop your pimples.

 

Don’t forget skin repair

Don’t worry if you have abused your skin over the years — there’s still hope. There are many new and effective, great skincare programs that can repair and clean up damage caused to the skin over time. Consult with a board-certified dermatologist for the best programs available.

The skincare programs and systems will include a combination of anti-inflammatories, retinol, alpha hydroxyl acids, and sunscreens. The plan may also call for platelet-rich plasma, fillers, muscle and wrinkle relaxers, treatments to dissolve away unwanted fat, and laser treatments. Consult with a board-certified dermatologist so they can carefully evaluate your skin and prescribe the very best skin treatment program to restore your skin to its vibrant, healthy self.

 

Don’t ignore warning signs of skin cancer

If you notice any changes in your skin, especially if moles are changing in size, color or shape, and if moles bleed or are becoming raised, see your dermatologist. Death from skin cancer is almost completely preventable. Mind the old saying, “See spot, see spot change, see your dermatologist.”

 

By avoiding these skin sins, your skin will be happier and healthier. You will look good and feel great.

 

Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the U.S. by Black Enterprise magazine and one of the top 21 African American physicians in the U.S. by the Atlanta Post. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians, MABP.org.