Living Comfortably in our own Skin
Summer is winding down to the final days of heat, mosquitos, and hazy smoke in the air. As I look in the mirror and I see sunburn, mosquito bites, and a wasp sting on the back of my leg and realized how much our skin goes through in such a short period of time. Looking ahead, the cold winter weather can dry out the air and make our skin feel like sandpaper. We need a strategy to keep our skin healthy to survive the constant exposure that threatens to wrinkle and dry us out.
Strangely, the best strategy begins in the shower or bath. Our skin is covered in natural oils to lock moisture in and water washes away these oils, therefore, allowing moisture to evaporate. Reduce shower time to less than 15 minutes, and avoid excessively hot showers and baths. Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. Pat dry with your towel and avoid rubbing down, which strips away the natural oils.
Use the “3-minute rule” when it comes to moisturizing your skin. Apply a moisturizing cream to your body within the first three minutes after your shower or bath, with no perfumes, alcohols or colourants in it. For skin that is thickened or cracked, like your feet, knees or elbows, use a moisturizing ointment that can penetrate the thicker skin. For problematic skin that dries out even with a good moisturizer, use a cream that contains urea, lactic acid, or hyaluronic acid.
Next step to skin care is to “Dress to Protect”. Our hands can signal the first signs of problems. We are constantly exposing our hands to different soils and irritations and wash our hands throughout the day. Wear gloves when you need to handle chemicals, greases, or soils. Keep hand lotion or cream by the sink to apply after you wash. Wool and rough fabrics can create discomfort from our clothes but also have a closer look at your laundry detergent. Many laundry detergents contain perfumes so look for a laundry detergent that is “hypoallergenic” or fragrance-free.
Did you know that nearly 50% of all skin cancers occur on our face, the back of our neck or on our shoulders? The sun causes skin conditions including rashes, age spots and wrinkles. Apply sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF of 30 or more and reapply every couple of hours. Products with Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide are better and less irritating to the skin. Wear a wide brimmed hat and loose fitting shirts with long sleeves. Avoid being out in the sun during the hottest part of the day (11:00 am to 3:00 pm).
Seeing my reddened skin in the mirror was a good reminder to not take my skin for granted. The secret to enjoying healthy, glowing skin for years to come is to begin a daily routine of moisturizing and protecting our skin from the harsh elements we live in every day. Then, we can enjoy living comfortably in the skin we’re in!
Article written by Robert Beingessner
Pharmacy Manager, Imagine Health Pharmacy