GET TO KNOW YOUR SKIN
IT’S EASY TO OVERLOOK OUR SKIN’S HEALTH, BUT IT PLAYS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE IN KEEPING YOU WELL. IT PROTECTS YOU FROM HEAT, LIGHT, INJURY, BACTERIA, FUNGI AND VIRUSES, SENSES PAIN AND PLEASURE, AND HELPS TO REGULATE YOUR BODY TEMPERATURE
The skin is the largest organ of the human body so it’s important that we take extra good care of it. Yet while there are shelf-upon-shelf of skincare products out there, not to mention a plethora of treatments and advice, this abundance of choice can make it hard to know where to start. So we’re here to help with our handy skincare guide. Over the next nine pages, we’ll give you the lowdown on skincare products; help you establish lifestyle habits for healthy, radiant skin; and explore some common skin conditions and how to treat them. Plus we’ll equip you with invaluable information and tips to help you best manage existing problems and prevent new ones from developing. There are sections on skin cancer and tips for ageing gracefully so you can love the skin you’re in.
ALL ABOUT MOISTURISERS
The type of moisturiser that is best for you depends on many factors including your age, your skin type and whether you have any specific conditions, such as acne. Some moisturisers sit on top of the skin to slow water loss while others increase the skin’s ability to hold in moisture. Your doctor can help you choose one that is ideal for your skin type and individual concerns. In general:
Bath and shower oils deposit a thin layer of oil on the skin.
Lotions are best applied after a bath or shower while skin is damp to seal in the moisture. They are ideal on hairy areas and to treat mild skin dryness.
Creams are thicker and have more staying power than lotions.
Ointments are prescribed for drier, thicker, scalier areas of skin. They contain pure oil preparations and can be very greasy and difficult to remove.
What is it? A chronic, non-infectious inflammatory condition that can cause a lot of discomfort. Symptoms include:
Moderate to severely dry, itchy skin Recurring rash
Wet, weepy patches of skin
Rough, thick, sometimes cracked skin
What causes it? The exact cause is unknown, but it’s a sign that your skin is lacking in substances that usually keep it supple and intact. When damaged, moisture evaporates from your skin, causing cracks. Allergens and irritants can get in and these may make your skin feel itchy.
Wool or man-made fibres next to the skin Soaps, detergents, chemicals, perfume Being too hot or too cold
Excessive drying out of the skin Allergens like dustmites, mould, pollen or pet dander
Having a cold or flu
Try to identify and avoid triggers.
Try to keep your home at an even temperature.
Use a humidifier in dry or heated rooms to keep air moist.
Moisturise skin regularly.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about medications like corticosteroids that work by suppressing inflammation and oral antihistamines to reduce the itch.
Prescription medicines that weaken the immune system and/or light therapy may be needed to control severe chronic eczema.
PSORIASIS What is it?
Psoriasis occurs when the immune system sends the wrong message to skin cells, causing accelerated growth. New skin cells start to develop over a period of days instead of weeks and an overabundance of skin cells builds up, forming red, thick scaly patches.
What causes it?
Experts believe it is a mix of genetics and environmental factors that triggers the condition. Our genes can predispose us to develop psoriasis and many sufferers have a family history; however, not everyone with a predisposition will develop the condition. Stress, alcohol, smoking, infection, injury to the skin and certain medications all have the potential to trigger psoriasis if you have a genetic predisposition.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about prescription creams, ointments and/or oral medications used to treat psoriasis. See a dermatologist for light therapy, which works by slowing the growth of affected skin cells.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Because psoriasis is so visible, sufferers are also at risk of developing psychological issues such as poor body image, low selfesteem, and depression. Ask your doctor about how best to deal with these issues or head to The New Zealand Psychological Society website (psychology.org.nz) and use the Find a Psychologist service.
ROSACEA What is it?
Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin disorder that causes red patches, pimples, bumps and burst capillaries on your face. The condition tends to appear between the ages of 30 and 50. The first symptom is usually a tendency to blush, which becomes more frequent and more noticeable. Eventually the facial redness becomes constant, only changing in intensity.
What causes it?
The precise cause is not known but certain things can aggravate symptoms, such as:
Sitting close to an open fire
Sun and wind exposure
Hot baths and saunas
If you have mild rosacea, avoiding these triggers may be enough to improve the condition. Oral antibiotics are effective in suppressing the condition in most cases but the effect is often temporary – sometimes a topical antibiotic helps. Hydrocortisone cream may be prescribed and laser therapy can be effective in treating redness and skin thickening.
( 30 per cent of people who suffer from psoriasis have a family history of the condition