The skin is the largest organ of the body and is normally exposed to a number of things that can take away its natural glow.
There was a general belief that it is normal to apply oil on one's skin at the start of sunbathing. Over a period of time, dermatologists warned us about the harm behind this habit, including premature aging and skin cancer. Norman Levine, MD, a dermatologist in Tucson, Arizona, says the best way to avoid extensive injury to the skin is to avoid overexposure to the sun. The sun’s rays affect the renewal of the skin; when skin cells are damaged it results in aging and increases the risk of skin cancer. Jennifer Stein, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that it is easy to identify a person who spends too much time in the sun mainly by the presence of wrinkly skin with brown spots, which appear due to years of exposure to the sun.
Not applying enough sunscreen
According to experts, the minimum amount of sunscreen to be applied to protect us from sun damage is about an ounce. “Most people apply only a fourth of this amount”, says Jeffrey Dover, MD, FRCPC, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and director of SkinCare Physicians in Chestnut Hill. Dermatologists also recommend that while having more exposure, people should apply sunscreen once every two hours. When you are outside, you can provide maximum protection to the skin by wearing protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, being in the shade, and applying enough sunscreen.
Many think that tanning beds are better than being outside in the sun. Tanning beds provide a concentrated burst of UV A and UV B light causing skin aging and also triples the chances of developing skin cancer. According to Levine, going to a tanning bed is the worst thing you can do to your skin.
Along with the increased chances of lung cancer, emphysema, heart diseases and stroke, smoking adds a number of wrinkles on the skin. Many studies have added evidence to the fact that smoking encourages wrinkles. Dover says that many of us do not realize the damage done by smoking. While exposure to the sun affects the outside of the body, smoking damages the inside; making the skin look weak, tired and lifeless in appearance. Further, smoking may also result in yellowing of the skin, affect blood supply, and slow down the healing process.
Using a wrong cleanser
Many people use a harsh soap, normally meant for the body. Stein advises that using a mild cleanser is what is required to have smooth skin. People who are prone to acne can have an oil-free, non-comedogenic product for cleansing. Those who have dry skin should apply a lotion to maintain adequate moisture.
Scrubbing the skin
“Scrubbing the skin is a habit that can harm and irritate the skin”, says Stein. People who have acne feel like scrubbing the skin will make it better, when it actually worsens acne. Cleaning the face with a soft soap is the ideal method for improving looks.
Popping the pimples
Popping the pimple or acne can result in permanent scarring and worsen acne problems. It is better to opt for over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If acne still persists, contact a dermatologist.
Skin is the first place where stress can be seen clearly. “Stress is known to make skin conditions worse; but the actual reason behind the association is not known”, says Dover. Psoriasis, acne, and rosacea increases with stress. Stress can also make skin more prone to infections and harmful irritants. People who are stressed out have very little time to take care of their skin.
Giving too much importance to looks can also affect appearances, especially if you are not careful about the choice of professionals who does the chemical peel for you. “Skin treatments should be done by professionals who are skilled and experienced, particularly if you have sensitive skin, or if you are prone to skin conditions”, warns Stein. If performed by an unskilled and inexperienced person, a chemical peel can result in scarring and infections. Overdoing microdermabrasion and peels are equally harmful and make the skin red and irritated. Discuss with a dermatologist before trying any of the at-home skin procedures.
When you put on a lot of weight, skin stretches to accommodate the increase in girth and while you lose weight the skin sags. Surgery will be required to make the skin look tight if it is not elastic enough to get back to the original shape.
Lack of sleep
All of us require seven to nine hours of quality sleep to avoid having bags under the eyes. “Rejuvenation of the skin happens during sleep”, says Dover. Lack of adequate sleep affects the look of the skin, making it appear dull and lifeless. Dark circles are more obvious with deficient sleep.
Ignoring the signs
Change in the color and size of a mole are the most important signs of skin cancer. Early diagnosis always helps the doctor to treat it before it spreads to different parts of the body. Checking your skin every month for color and other changes will help to identify the problems early enough. “Look for changes in size, shape, and color of moles and also for appearance of new moles”, says Dover. “If anything is spotted or if you have a family history of skin cancer, it is better to get a complete examination done by the dermatologist”, suggests Dover.