Your skin is the largest organ in your body and performs many important functions. It holds in fluid to prevent dehydration. It keeps harmful microbes out, which prevents you from infection. It’s covered in nerve endings that allow you to feel pain, heat and cold. Without being able to feel these sensations, you could cut yourself, get burned or even frostbite, and not even know it.
Your skin also helps your body regulate temperature. If you get too hot, blood vessels (capillaries) near the surface of your skin enlarge to let the warm blood cool down. Vitamin D is also produced by your skin when exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D is really important for bone health.
So, it’s really important to take care of your skin and make sure you pay attention to any changes that may be sending you messages of a bigger problem.
Keep it clean
Washing your skin, especially your hands, is important to keeping your health—particularly during cold and flu season and after using the bathroom. Hand washing keeps you from spreading germs to other parts of your body. Washing your hands also helps prevent spreading germs to other people. When bathing or showering, be sure to use water that’s warm and not too hot. Water that is too hot can dry out your skin. If your skin is dry and itchy, use a moisturizing cream or lotion and use it after every bath and handwashing.
Prevent sun damage
If you are exposed to intense sunlight, you are at risk of damaging or burning your skin. Sunlight contains UV light that causes sunburn and makes your skin age faster. Want to look younger for longer? Protect your skin from the sun. Wear hats and other protective clothing and always use sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30. Limiting time in the sun during late morning and early afternoon hours when sunlight is strongest is another way to prevent sun damage. And never use tanning beds or sunlamps. They emit the same harmful UV radiation as the sun and are no more safer than lying out on the beach.
Avoid dry skin
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is the best way to avoid dry skin. Using gentle soaps, moisturizers, lotions, or creams will also keep your skin from getting too dry. You can also try using a humidifier to make the air in your home less dry.
Stress is known to cause a chemical response in your body that makes skins more sensitive. It can also make it harder for skin problems to heal. Stress can aggravate psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. It can also cause hives and other types of skin rashes and trigger a flare-up of fever blisters.
Get enough sleep
During sleep, your body’s hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles. Experts recommend about 9 hours a night for teens and 7-8 hours for adults.
Look for signs
Your skin may be showing signs of other health issues. For example, red, itchy rash might signal allergies or infections, and a red “butterfly” rash on your face might be a sign of lupus. A yellow tint might indicate liver disease. And dark or unusual moles might be a warning sign of skin cancer. Be on the lookout for unexpected changes to your skin, and talk with your doctor if you have concerns.
Have questions about anything you’ve read here? Talk to your doctor or one of our pharmacists. We’re always here to help you feel better.
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