Keep your skin healthy

People say the beauty of deep skin; It’s what’s on the “inside” that counts. Our insides are important, but skin is your first line of defense against the outside world. Skin can also provide important clues to your overall health. Learn to take good care of your skin so that your skin can continue to take good care of you.

Skin protects your body in many ways. “Skin provides the body with protection from bacterial aggression and environmental hazards that can endanger human health,” says NIH dermatologist Dr. Heidi Kong.

The skin also plays another role. It has nerve endings that allow you to feel when the object is too hot or sharp so you can pull yourself out quickly. The sweat glands and tiny blood vessels in your skin help regulate your body temperature. And the cells in your skin convert sunlight into vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones.

Skin can also alert you to health issues. An itchy rash can be a sign of an allergy or infection, and a “butterfly” rash on your face can be a sign of psoriasis. Yellow may indicate liver disease. And blackheads or abnormalities can be a warning sign of skin cancer. Look for unexpected changes in your skin and consult your doctor if you are concerned.

Your skin can become very dry if you do not drink enough fluids or spend too much time in sunny or dry conditions. “While hand washing is important for good hygiene, washing your hands too often can also lead to dry skin,” says Kong, especially if you wash with hot water and strong soap. To treat dry skin, use a moisturizer or lotion and use warm water instead of bathing and washing hands. You can also try using a humidifier to keep the air in your home less dry.

The sun can also damage your skin. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) light, which causes sunburn and makes your skin age faster, leading to more wrinkles as you age. “There is a strong link between UV exposure and skin cancer,” Kong added. So protect your skin from the sun. Wear a hat and other protective clothing, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and limit your time in the sun in the early morning and in the afternoon when the sun is strongest.

Many dermatologists, such as Kong, are studying the microbiology of the skin, the bacteria and other microbes that live on your skin. Some of these microbes can help. Evidence shows that they boost the immune system against infections and help keep you healthy. “But there are some skin diseases that are associated with certain microbes,” Kong said. “We are trying to understand how those microbes differentiate between healthy people and people with skin diseases.” In the long run, scientists want to find ways to help healthy skin microbes while reducing harmful substances.

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