Q& A

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - ASK THE GP -

Healthy skin isn’t only about phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance; the skin is ac­tu­ally a liv­ing, breath­ing or­gan with im­por­tant func­tions such as act­ing as a bar­rier to out­side tox­ins, sen­sa­tion, heat reg­u­la­tion, ex­pres­sion, ex­cre­tion (sweat­ing) and ab­sorp­tion.

Healthy skin starts from within, so fo­cus­ing on your daugh­ter’s health and nutri­tion is a good place to start. It is es­sen­tial to drink at least one litre of fluid a day for a child (1ƒ litres for an adult) to main­tain skin health.

Next, re­duce sun ex­po­sure. Ap­ply Fac­tor 50 and en­sure both UVA and UVB pro­tec­tion.

Lastly fol­low a healthy diet rich in min­er­als and vi­ta­mins and low in pro­cessed foods and re­fined sug­ars.

One par­tic­u­larly com­mon and un­pop­u­lar skin con­di­tion is Ker­ato­sis Po­laris (KP), com­monly known as chicken skin — it refers to the coarse, dry, sand­pa­per-like bumps that ap­pear mainly on the arms, thighs and but­tocks.

The bumps are usu­ally white but may some­times be red, and there may ap­pear to be trapped hairs in them at times. It of­ten runs in fam­i­lies.

The sever­ity may vary through the sea­sons, of­ten worse in win­ter and eas­ing in sum­mer. It is thought that air dry­ness cause by cen­tral heat­ing may be the rea­son for this.

Ker­atin is a tough pro­tein that forms a pro­tec­tive layer on the skin but when built up in the hair fol­li­cles forms a scaly plug, which leads to the bumpy tex­ture of the skin. The buildup of these plugs is what we see in KP.

Dry skin makes the con­di­tion worse and it is more com­mon in those who have con­di­tions such as der­mati­tis and eczema. KP usu­ally ap­pears in the first decade of life, and peaks in the teens and 20s, and in many peo­ple eases af­ter the age of 30.

It is thought to oc­cur in over 50% of the pop­u­la­tion, and is more com­mon in women than men. KP is not

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