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Your skin is your body’s first line of defense, and it is the most
likely to show the effects of daily assault.
A variety of factors — ranging from the sun and diet to a lack of
sleep or stress — take a toll on your skin. And, whether you’re
young or old, your skin, the largest of the human organs, craves protection.
“Good skin care and a healthy lifestyle can help you battle the impact
of the elements that affect your skin,” shares Dermatologist
Rebecca Soine, MD, of
North Oaks Dermatology Associates, adding that the sun is “by far the biggest offender.”
As a first step, she and her colleague,
Dr. Frank Henchy, always encourage their patients to use a broad spectrum sunscreen when
they’re outside. She explains that when the sun burns the skin,
its elasticity is reduced over the years and causes wrinkles. Additionally,
frequent and prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays over
many years is the main cause of cancer.
Amanda, a 58-year-old patient, admits that she spent too much time in the
sun, beginning when she was a teenager.
“If I had known 40 years ago what I know now, I would have taken
more precautions,” she shares. “My friends and I would lay
out in the sun for hours and hours, and considered our tanned skin a source
of pride. Today, that youthful skin has turned into wrinkles, causing
me to look older than I truly am.”
The skin requires a proper diet and hydration “the building blocks
of healthy skin”, according to
North Oaks Dietetic Internship Program Director Leslie Ballard. Eating well is also beneficial for preventing
diseases of the skin that can manifest throughout your life, Ballard notes.
Vitamins A, C and E have been proven to benefit the skin, she continues.
All have strong antioxidant properties. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables
and whole grains and low in sugar, salt and trans fats provides nutrients
to keep a person looking healthy.
In addition to a healthy diet, the amount of water intake can affect the
skin’s appearance and also rid the body of toxins. A report by the
University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health reinforces
the concept that if your skin isn’t getting a sufficient amount
of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin
dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to
As water is lost in large quantities every day, you need to replace it
somehow. In addition to drinking about eight glasses of water a day, it’s
important to apply water to our skin and keep it there — this may
show a visible difference in hydration, Dr. Henchy comments.
One way to add water to the skin is to apply a hydrating moisturizer within
two minutes of bathing or showering. Because the skin is still porous,
it absorbs the moisturizer better.
The old adage about getting your beauty sleep shouldn’t be ignored
North Oaks Sleep Disorders Center Medical Director
Dr. Lauren L. Davis.
“Chronic lack of sleep can age your skin prematurely and even trigger
inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis," Dr. Davis
points out. “When you don’t get the proper amount of sleep,
there are chemical changes that take place and will show up in your skin’s
In fact, over the past two decades a new medical specialty has developed
called “psychodermatology.” It grew out of a number of published
studies that show a link between mood and sleep problems in chronic skin
diseases, which may also be why skin conditions sometimes improve when
taking antidepressants and antianxiety medications.
“For example, teenagers who go through emotional times often experience
bad flares of acne. It’s long been known that stress can cause acne,
but there are other skin conditions that result from anxiety,” Dr.
Henchy remarks. “Eczema, hives, rosacea, psoriasis – all are
heightened with anxiety and stressful events. And, of course, one of the
greatest stress relievers is getting plenty of sleep.”
For more information on how to protect your skin, contact your health care provider.