The condition of our skin provides us with clues of our overall internal health. Some easy-to-discern skin conditions that suggest internal health issues; an itchy, red skin irritation could be a sign of an allergic reaction or infection; a distinguished yellow skin pallor can indicate a liver condition; a red “butterfly” rash on the face may indicate the presence of lupus; skin moles that grow in size or change color can be an indicator for skin cancer. So, it is a great idea to understand your skin and stay alert about any skin changes.

Functions of our skin

Our skin performs a very important function as the first line of defense for our body against the outside world. It safeguards us from bacteria, and viruses, and reduces harmful effects from possible environmental exposures such as dust, pollution, and UV rays. Our skin inhibits the loss of moisture from our body. As a sensory organ, it helps us respond to touch and different temperatures to support our health. It supports us in managing and regulating our body temperature. It also acts as an immune organ to detect infections and helps with the production of vitamin D to support our health.

Inner workings of our skin

Our skin is divided into three layers, the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the topmost, visible layer of the skin. Besides providing protection this is the layer that contains the sensitive nerve endings and the melanin pigment which gives our skin its unique color. The dermis or the middle layer of the skin makes up ninety percent of our skin’s thickness. This layer contains the hair follicles, sweat and oil glands, and important blood vessels and nerve receptors. It also contains proteins, collagen, and elastin which make our skin strong, supple, and resilient. The hypodermis or third and the bottom-most layer of skin is a layer of fatty tissues. It helps, support and cushion our muscles, bones, nerves, and our blood vessels. It also helps regulate our body temperature. As you can understand, each of these three layers has its own important function. Damage to any of these can lead to damaged skin.

What factors affect the health of our skin?

Our skin gets affected by the weather, environmental factors such as dust and pollutants, our diet, our choice of food and drinks, exposure to the sun, our sleep patterns, our lifestyle habits, stress, hormonal changes, and genetics.

Why is the health of our skin important?

When we become aware of the language of our skin and take the time to understand and handle common skin ailments, we not only support our body but also our overall physical and mental health. When we take time to care for our skin, we are being proactive about our health. Being aware and taking action will help reduce our risk for many skin conditions such as rashes, acne, skin aging, and even cancer.

What can we do to keep our skin healthy?

Here are 5 skincare tips for maintaining the health of your skin.

1. Manage your sun exposure

Make sunscreen your friend. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion, ointment, or spray with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher every day. Get into the habit of using it daily, whether you go out in the sun or not. You can also wear sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 or higher to reduce the effect of harmful UV rays. Simple sun exposure hacks like wearing sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, or using an umbrella are all very useful to not only protect the body from the sun but also maintain a pleasant body temperature.

2. Manage your skin

Take the time to keep your skin moist and supple. You can use easily available skin care products or make your own concoctions at home. Create a good skin care regimen, to begin, keep your skin free from impurities by cleansing it morning and evening. Get into the habit of gently scrubbing and exfoliating not only your face but your whole body weekly.

3. The inside approach

Eat and drink to support the health of your skin. Since water hydrates, all our body organs including our skin, drink lots of water. Avoid drinks and foods that contain sugar or get converted to sugar easily whenever possible. Indulge in fresh, in-season foods and foods with healthy fats instead of no-fat diets. Invest in a dietary supplement or ensure that all key vitamins are in your daily diet. Vitamins E and Vitamin C are great for our skin’s health.

4. Our lifestyle

Reflect and become aware of your lifestyle, body’s reactions and responses, and everyday habits. What are your favorite comfort foods, what are your favorite drinks, how much sleep do you get, how much do you exercise, are you allergic to any foods, reflecting on these kinds of questions will help you become more aware of your body’s needs.

5. Managing our environment

The area you live in contributes to the condition of your skin as well. Pollution and dust clog the pores in our skin making it look unhealthy and dull. Managing our environment especially since we now live mostly indoors in air conditioning it is a good idea to invest in an air purifier to help reduce airborne irritants. You can also consider adding a few more oxygen-enriching plants to your indoor environment.

As the new year starts, there is no better day than TODAY to start taking special care of your skin!

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