Loving the skin you're in
Arusha Campbell-Chambers, Health Contributor
I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year! It's a time when many persons aim to maintain or achieve their best selves - inside and out. Skin conditions can be a major source of embarrassment, frustration, low self-esteem, and time away from school or work.
Here are 10 tips for general skin care and for minimising the emotional problems associated with skin conditions:
1 The most important steps in skin care include cleansing, moisturising and sun protection. If your skin is dry and sensitive, use gentle fragrance-free cleansers and moisturisers. Avoid harsh toners and astringents that contain alcohol. If your skin is oily or a combination of oily and dry, you may use deeper-cleaning cleansers, like those containing salicylic acid, once your skin is not irritated by these products. After cleansing, you may use a toner or astringent. These individuals should use oil-free moisturisers as well.
2 Everyone should use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 to protect your skin from the harmful effects of sunlight, which include sunburn, premature ageing and skin cancer. Sunscreen should be used daily, reapplied every few hours, protective clothing worn, and excessive sun exposure limited where possible.
3 Even though individuals of fairer skin types have less natural sun protection and are more at risk of sun damage, all individuals, regardless of race, can be affected.
4 In addition, although skin cancer is more common in Caucasians, all races can get skin cancer. It has also been found that people of darker skin types who get skin cancer tend to go to doctors at later stages of these conditions, and so tend to have higher rates of death from skin cancer. So everyone should routinely check their skin for any suspicious lesion that is growing rapidly, changing or causing new symptoms. If in doubt, check it out.
5 We have all been fearfully and wonderfully made, and we need to be mindful of the dangers of certain harmful practices like skin bleaching. This practice removes a natural asset - melanin, the pigment which gives natural sun protection. Skin bleaching can cause unsightly and unhealthy physical and emotional problems. All skin types and complexions are beautiful and should be celebrated.
6 If you suffer from a skin disease that you cannot manage by yourself, you should seek medical treatment.
7 Do not define yourselves by your skin problems. Try not to let the skin's condition reduce your self-esteem. Focus on the positive aspects of your life as you seek help to improve your condition.
8 Try to reduce the sources of stress in your life, seek spiritual and psychological help, get rest, eat healthy, exercise, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.
9 For those who know others with skin conditions, be mindful of how sensitive they may be about their problems. Avoid making harsh comments about their skin. We should all aim to treat others as we would like to be treated.
10. Love the skin you're in!
Dr. Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spas; email: firstname.lastname@example.org