We often think of cleaning for proper skin care. It’s better to think of skin protection.
Skin protection goals are to maintain healthy skin and protect it from harmful elements. Your skin does try to protect itself. Skin secretions include sweat and sebum, which are vital for proper skin maintenance. Sebum provides a layer of protection and also keeps moisture in your skin.
Did you know that some cleansing practices may harm your skin? Detergents or soaps that strip your sebum layer without replenishing it will lead to dry, irritated skin. Abrasive cleansing, even scrubbing will damage the skin. Dry or damaged skin loses its protective ability, weakening your body’s barrier to the elements, and accelerating skin aging.
So what is the most concerning element that damages skin? It’s UV light, yep, sunlight. Whether it is directly on you or reflected, protection from sunlight is the best thing you can do for your skin. Skin aging and damage is seen as dryness, lack of suppleness, and discolouration. UV damage is eventually seen as age spots. If you want to avoid age spots – protect your skin from damaging UV light every day. Did you know sun tanning beds do cause skin damage and contribute to the risk of cancer? Any exposure to UV light damages your skin and increases your likelihood of developing skin cancer. Another common myth is that there is less damaging sunlight in winter – even though there is less time due to shorter days, the amount of light can be greater than summer due to the reflection of light off the snow.
Regular reapplication of sunscreen is required when you are active, and especially in water. Water will reflect more light, and even when you are underwater, the light will still penetrate. Your pharmacist can help you choose a product for the activity you are planning, so you can enjoy the day and not hurt later.
What is proper skin care? Proper skin care does not require expensive products or tools. Your pharmacist can assist in providing choices and help you with a tailored skin care regimen. These are foundational considerations:
- Gentle cleaning to maintain your skin’s own protective ability only requires your hands
- If a brush, cloth, or tool is desired, it must be very gentle – no scrubbing!
- The ideal cleanser is gentle, non-abrasive, free of extra chemicals or scents
- Pat dry skin – no rubbing!
- Apply moisturizer after washing
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out
- Protect areas of exposed skin without sunscreen with tight-knit clothing
- Use an umbrella or hat – your hair is not sufficient protection
- Wear sunglasses to protect eyes and surrounding sensitive skin
- Some UV light will penetrate glass, so protect skin even if you are indoors or in the car
What if you get a sunburn? It is important to cool your skin carefully, and avoid breaking skin or blisters that form. Keep things off the skin to allow cooling and avoid trapping heat which can lead to further damage. Take a cool shower, and pat dry your skin. Drink water and keep hydrated. An anti-inflammatory may be taken or used, but ask your pharmacist if you are taking other medications, or for help on which products to use. For severe burns, monitor for fever or symptoms of disorientation, nausea, or vomiting. Any of these signs, especially in young children or the elderly requires immediate emergency medical attention.