Are you taking care of your body’s largest organ?
Most people don’t realize that they aren’t caring for their body’s largest organ. No, it isn’t your heart. Nope, not your lungs.
Brain? Try again.
It’s your body’s barrier to the outside world. What is it? Your skin!
Most people view skincare as vain and expensive.
Isn’t it more important to care for your heart? Yes and no. Whether we like it or not, the skin is an organ and needs attention and care, too. You should be seeing your primary care doctor for check-ups and your dentist for regular cleanings… so why wouldn’t you see your dermatologist, as well? (Yes, they’re doctors, too.)
Luckily, taking care of your skin isn’t challenging, nor will it cost you thousands of dollars/pesos/rupees/euros/yen/renminbi, etc. The best thing you could do for it right now is to call your dermatologist or general, doctor and schedule a full skin exam, especially if you’ve never had it done before.
“Full skin exam” sounds scary, but it just means a dermatologist will examine your body for any suspicious areas, “suspicious” being anything that looks like a potential cancer spot or another skin disease. Although less common, darker skinned people can get skin cancer. You can prepare for your Dermatology appointment in 3 easy steps:
- Check yourself – do a private lookover of yourself to see if there are any spots you may want to talk about with your dermatologist. Don’t forget to use a mirror or have your partner or close friend look are your back. Taking pictures is usually not a good idea because subtle changes in color might occur. Don’t forget to check your scalp.
- Remove nail polish, makeup, and if you have long hair, let it down – this will ensure that nothing will be missed during the exam as skin cancer can form on the nails, face, and scalp.
- Ask questions – dermatologists are there for a reason and are the most qualified to answer your skin-related questions. Please don’t be shy; they’ve heard it all!
What you can do now to take care of your skin
Something you can do on your own to take care of your skin is some easy skin-care.
First, make sure you gently wash your face every morning and evening to prevent clogged pores and pollution from remaining on your face.
Next, use a moisturizer after you wash your face to help protect your skin’s natural barrier to the air.
Lastly, and most importantly, use sunscreen! Ensure it protects against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. (Both of these qualities will be written on the bottle.) Sunscreen is the #1 thing you could do to prevent skin cancer and premature aging. These products can be obtained from the drugstore and will do a great job keeping your skin healthy. Use them regularly, and you’re covered, literally.
It is easy to know what “type” of skin you have by looking at and feeling your face. There are a few types, and you may have more than one:
- Dry (your skin is itchy or flaky, especially in winter)
- Oily (your skin is shiny and has excess oil)
- Combination (your forehead, nose, and chin are oily, but the rest of your face is dry)
- Sensitive (your skin is easily irritated and is often red or pink)
- Acneic (your skin breaks out often and may have lots of “blackheads”, not just clogged pores)
Knowing your skin “type” will help with choosing skin-care products.
A common misconception when people think of taking care of their skin is that they need to buy high-end, expensive products.
This is simply untrue.
Your local pharmacy likely carries everything you need to take good care of your skin. Professional products are lovely and might occasionally make a difference, but very few people need them. Remember, all you need to take complete care of your body’s largest organ is:
- Yearly dermatologist appointments
- Gentle face wash twice a day
- Moisturizer twice a day
- Sunscreen in the morning every day
- Avoid excessive sun exposure if you can
Your skin will continue to protect you if you protect it!
Dr. S. John Guha