Skin Problems

Your skin isn’t just your body’s greatest protector, it’s also extremely vulnerable to the world.The following are some health issues that have beauty implications. These irritating conditions can influence your appearance and self-confidence.Moles and Growths: We’re most concerned with cancerous growths. You can do a self-exam for precancerous growths with the help of a partner. He or she can check the areas you can’t see, and photograph your total skin surface, so you can track yearly changes.Have anything new or different checked by your dermatologist. Put a dime next to any growths as an estimate of size. Also, realize that skin-damaging UV rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which cause skin problems whether the sun’s out or not.QUIZ: Do You Have Healthy Skin?Acne and Rosacea: There’s no proof that chocolate and other foods will cause a pimple to crop up the night before a presentation. We do know that 80 percent of teens and 40 percent of U.S. adults complain about pimples. In Papua, New Guinea, that number is nearly zero percent. Something must be going on with our lifestyle.One culprit is our inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids (as opposed to saturated fats, trans fats or omega-6 fats from corn and soybean oils). You can get adequate amounts of omega-3 by consuming avocado, walnuts, freshly ground flaxseed, canola oil, fish oil or DHA supplements from algae.Another culprit? Stress! During exam time, college students have more bouts of acne. A dermatologist can inject steroid medicine to calm cystic acne (a severe form), but the drawback is that it thins the skin, and often leaves a depression after.Don’t pick or squeeze pimples—you’ll damage your skin, increasing inflammation and risk of spreading infection. Wash your face twice a day with a washcloth and mild soap. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid and retinoid creams or gels are all effective ways of reducing acne.MORE: Skincare Products for AcneYou can try an ancient Chinese remedy if you’re adventurous. Sea buckthorn oil has been used for a few millennia for a variety of medicinal benefits. The rich fatty acid mixture has recently been used topically as a treatment for acne and rosacea and can be found in some skincare products.Rosacea, a condition similar to acne, is one of the most common skin problems. Certain antibiotics tend to work because they kill bacteria and they reduce inflammation. Ask your doctor if an ointment combining antibiotics and a low-potency steroid cream (like hydrocortisone) is right for you.Lasers that target the visible capillaries can have an immediate effect on the redness and swelling. Daily topical vitamin C and twice-daily topical niacin more subtly reduce the redness in about a month.Eczema: This skin condition is an allergic reaction, easily treated with inexpensive skin moisturizers. It’s common during the winter, when dry air causes tiny breaks in the skin, which lets in chemicals that irritate your skin, especially your hands. Keep hydrated.Immediately after your shower, apply fragrance-free moisturizer. This way, the moisture’s locked in, and the rash/irritating dryness is prevented. If your eczema is stubborn, you may use a moisturizer with lactic acid or a steroid or prescription cream. If this fails, have an allergist get to the bottom of your problem. The culprit can be the metal nickel or preservatives or fragrances in skincare products.Psoriasis: This autoimmune ailment affects the skin cell life cycle. It results in dry, flaking skin. In people with psoriasis, the skin cells slough off in only a few weeks, as opposed to a couple months. The immune cells attack healthy skin cells by accident, as if they’re trying to heal a wound. The result is that cells build up and form thick scales. They’re dry, patchy, itchy and sometimes painful.People can get some relief from the discomfort, although there’s no cure. Topical agents and exposing yourself to small amounts of UV light (light therapy) work to slow skin replication. A doctor may prescribe more powerful drugs, often used to prevent joint destruction and arthritis, as they also seem to slow remodeling and make the skin and nails better.Mindfulness, meditation and resistance exercises can help calm the autoimmune process too (when it’s not so severe as to cause joint damage).Allergies: About 10 percent of the population has sensitive skin. If that includes you, avoid skincare products and cosmetics with fragrances, antioxidants, stabilizers, preservatives and coloring agents. Less can be more! While a skin cream might only have one or two active ingredients, it can have a dozen (or more) inactive ingredients that may irritate you.

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