Skin health and beauty- big business
Browse social media or news sites online and you notice skin health and appearance is a priority for most people. Sales for skin care and appearance products and services is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen posts from friends who are involved in direct selling companies for skin care, maybe you are also.
(By way of disclosure, I am a consultant for a direct selling company offering skincare products and makeup but will not discuss any of those products in this post. However there will be other affiliate links through which this blog can earn a commission if you make a purchase through them. )
In my work as a family physician, I treat skin problems frequently. Some of these are primary skin problems, but some are the result of lifestyle habits, other medical conditions, and even medical treatments. While some of these may be unavoidable, others are preventable.
This post will look at two avoidable risks to skin health and appearance-smoking and ultraviolet light.
Skin Deep- cells and layers
First let’s take a deeper look at our skin, it’s more complex than you may realize.
Skin disease and trauma involve damage to one or both layers of the skin- the dermis or epidermis, or to the individual cells- squamous cells, basal cells, or the melanocytes-the cells with pigment that give our skin color.
Cancers can develop in any cell of the skin. Melanoma is cancer of the melanocytes.
(This photo is for illustration only and should not be used to diagnose a skin lesion. See a physician if you have a skin lesion that concerns you. )
I’ve previously discussed 7 reasons to be smoke free. One of those is skin health.
By decreasing circulation, smoking robs skin of nourishment and oxygen; this weakens skin , making it susceptible to infection, cancer, and aging.
Skin experts wrote in the Journal of Dermatological Science
“Smoking is associated with many dermatological (skin) conditions, including
- poor wound healing,
- premature skin aging,
- squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma,(cancers)
- psoriasis, and
- hair loss
Tobacco’s effect on skin appearance include
- Facial wrinkles and furrows (eg, crows’ feet at corners of the eyes, smoker’s lines around lips)
- Baggy eyelids and slack jawline
- Uneven skin coloring: grayish, yellow with prominent blood vessels (telangiectasia)
- Dry, coarse skin.
Long term, the skin of a 40-year-old heavy smoker will resemble that of non-smoking 70-year-old. !
Other potential hazards from tobacco use include
- increased risk for bacterial, yeast, and viral skin infections
- impaired circulation increasing the risk of frostbite, Raynaud’s syndrome, and blood clots (thrombosis)
- thrush and gingivitis
DermNet NZ offers this gallery of photos illustrating these ways tobacco use can damage our skin. ALERT: These photos are graphic.
Basking in sunlight may enhance our mood, but too much of it can damage our skin.
The signs of photo-aging are obvious to physicians-
- yellowing or sallowing of the skin complexion
- dry and rough texture with wrinkling,
- unevenly pigmented skin tone with dilated blood vessels.
- stretched out
- easy bruising
Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds. Besides aging, excess sun exposure can cause
- Rash due to increased sun sensitivity when taking certain medications
- Cancers- skin cancers are the most common type of cancer.
How to limit UV light exposure
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher
- Wear hats, sunglasses, sun protective clothing
- Avoid sun exposure, especially from 10 am to 4 pm
- No tanning bed use.
Learn more about the effects of sun exposure from familydoctor.org at this link.
In future posts, I’ll talk more about what hurts our skin, and what helps our skin.
As always, I appreciate your time and interest in exploring and sharing the HEART of health with me.