Some ad­vice about skin care is sim­ply a waste of time

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Anthony Komaroff Ask Dr. K

I hear and read so much ad­vice about skin care, and I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. Can you ad­dress some com­mon myths about skin care?

You’re right to be skep­ti­cal. My pa­tients of­ten tell me that they’ve heard about a way to keep their skin clear and healthy, and of­ten it is sim­ply not true. I’ll de­bunk some of the most com­mon myths I hear:

• THE RIGHT SKIN CREAM CAN KEEP YOUR SKIN LOOK­ING YOUNG.

For re­duc­ing wrin­kles, the treat­ment with the best ev­i­dence be­hind it is retinoic acid (as in Retin-A) that you ap­ply to your skin. But the best ways to keep wrin­kles at bay are us­ing sun­screen and not smok­ing.

• ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP IS BEST FOR KEEP­ING YOUR SKIN CLEAN.

It’s un­nec­es­sary to keep your skin com­pletely free of bac­te­ria, and im­pos­si­ble to ac­com­plish any­way. There is no ev­i­dence that antibacterial soap cleans bet­ter than reg­u­lar soap. In ad­di­tion, it may pro­mote bac­te­ria re­sis­tant to an­tibi­otics.

• EAT­ING CHOCO­LATE OR OILY FOODS CAUSES OILY SKIN AND ACNE.

There’s no ev­i­dence that any spe­cific food causes acne. An oily sub­stance called se­bum causes acne. It’s made and se­creted by small glands be­neath the skin.

• TAN­NING IS AL­WAYS BAD FOR YOU.

Spend­ing too much time in the sun or in a tan­ning booth can in­crease skin cancer risk. Ex­ces­sive tan­ning can also cause skin to wrin­kle and age pre­ma­turely. That is not a myth: It’s un­de­ni­ably true. I spent a lot of time on the beaches of sunny South­ern Cal­i­for­nia when I was a kid, only rarely us­ing sun­tan lo­tion. And I’ve had many skin can­cers as a re­sult — all cured, for­tu­nately.

But de­vel­op­ing a light or grad­ual tan through re­peated, but care­ful, sun ex­po­sure isn’t dan­ger­ous. Just take ap­pro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions: Use a sun­screen of at least SPF 30, ap­ply it thor­oughly and reap­ply when nec­es­sary, and avoid peak sun ex­po­sure times (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). • TAN­NING IS GOOD FOR YOU. There’s no ev­i­dence that tan peo­ple are health­ier than paler peo­ple. Sun ex­po­sure does have a health ben­e­fit, though. Sun­light ac­ti­vates vi­ta­min D in the skin. Vi­ta­min D helps keep bones strong, and may well have other health ben­e­fits. But you can get the vi­ta­min D you need from food and sup­ple­ments. You don’t need to tan.

• THE HIGHER THE SPF OF YOUR SUN­SCREEN, THE BET­TER.

Above a cer­tain level, a higher sun pro­tec­tion fac­tor (SPF) has lit­tle added ben­e­fit. Us­ing sun­screen with an SPF of at least 30 is fine.

Keep­ing your skin healthy is im­por­tant, no doubt. But be­ware of these myths, as they will only dis­tract you from your goal.

(This col­umn ran orig­i­nally in Novem­ber 2014.)

Dr. Komaroff is a physi­cian and pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­i­cal School.)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.