Caring for the skin
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - June 18, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — It is perhaps pretty obvious why the skin needs to be taken care of properly. The skin is the largest organ of the body and its first line of defense against diseases.  Not to forget that the skin is also largely what is seen of a person.

Given the important role that the skin plays, it is only proper that it is given its due attention and care. Firstly, it helps a lot for one to know his or her skin type. (Please find in the next page a home method for testing skin type.) One’s skin may either be dry, oily, sensitive, or a combination of those.

Knowing one’s skin type can help the next time he or she is in the cosmetics aisle. Choosing and using the wrong products for one’s skin type could worsen acne, dryness, or other skin problems. On the other hand, it is also easier to deal with common skin problems when one knows his or her own skin type.

Observing a daily skincare routine is basic. No matter the skin type, a daily skin care routine can help in maintaining overall skin health and in improving particular concerns like acne, scarring, and dark spots. The website www.healthline.com shares a daily skincare routine sample that entails application of four basic products, to be done in the morning and before going to bed:

1. Cleanser: Choose a cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin tight after washing. Clean your face no more than twice a day, or just once, if you have dry skin and you don’t wear makeup. Avoid washing for that squeaky-clean feeling because that means your skin’s natural oils are gone.

2. Serums: A serum with vitamin C or growth factors or peptides would be better in the morning, under sunscreen. At night, retinol or prescription retinoids work best.

3. Moisturizer: Even oily skin needs moisturizer, but use one that is lightweight, gel-based, and non-comedogenic, or doesn’t block your pores. Dry skin may benefit from more cream-based moisturizers. Most brands will label their products as gel or cream on their packaging.

4. Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with at least SPF-30 not less than 15 minutes before heading outdoors, as it takes a while for sunscreen to activate. Darker skin tones actually need more sun protection because hyperpigmentation is harder to correct. Choose sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

The www.healthline.com website emphasizes choosing products that fit one’s skin type and sensitivity, and reading the product labels. It points out that some products, such as retinol or prescription retinoids, should only be applied at night. The website adds that staying hydrated, changing pillow cases at least once a week, and washing or wrapping up the hair before bed are also important.

Certain do-it-yourself skincare hacks are strongly discouraged. The www.healthline.com website warns against certain products that will not serve the intended purpose at all and may even cause harm:

Lemon Juice: It may have citric acidic, but it is far too acidic and can cause dark spots to appear after sun exposure. It can also dry and irritate the skin.

Baking Soda: At a pH level of 8, baking soda will stress the skin, significantly decrease the skin’s water content, and cause dryness.

Garlic: In raw form, garlic can cause skin allergies, eczema, skin inflammation, and watery blisters.

Toothpaste: The ingredients in toothpaste may kill germs and absorb oil, but they can also dry out or irritate the skin.

Sugar: As an exfoliant, sugar is too harsh for the skin on the face.

Vitamin E: Topical application of vitamin E can irritate the skin and is not proven to improve scar appearance.

Some of these ingredients may be all natural and cost-effective, but they aren’t formulated for the skin. Even if one doesn't feel immediate side effects, these ingredients can cause delayed or long-term damage. It’s best to use products formulated for the face. One must talk to the doctor or dermatologist before trying DIY applications on the skin.

There’s a lot more and better care that the skin deserves, given its vital role for a person’s total wellbeing. But adopting a basic skincare routine – knowing what to do and what to avoid – can already go a long way.

Eczema and the Skin

A rash indicates an abnormal change in skin color or texture. Rashes are usually caused by skin inflammation, which can have many causes.

There are many types of rashes, and one of the most common is eczema.

Eczema is a general term that describes several different conditions in which skin is inflamed, red, scaly, and itchy. Eczema is a common skin condition, and atopic dermatitis (also called atopic eczema) is one of the most common forms of eczema.

Eczema can occur in adults or children. The condition is not contagious.

What Causes Atopic Eczema?

The cause of atopic eczema is not known, but the condition often affects people with a family history of allergies. Many individuals with eczema also have hay fever and/or asthma or have family members with those conditions.

Some factors can trigger a flare-up of eczema or make eczema worse, but they do not cause the condition. Eczema triggers include stress, skin irritants (including soaps, skin care products, or some fabrics), allergens, and climate or environment.

What are the Symptoms of Atopic Eczema?

The appearance of eczema can vary from person to person. In adults, eczema occurs most frequently on the hands and elbows, and in "bending" areas such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. In young children, eczema is often seen on the elbows, knees, face, neck, and scalp. Signs and symptoms of atopic eczema include: itchiness, skin redness; dry, scaly, or crusted skin that might become thick and leathery from long-term scratching; formation of small, fluid-filled blisters that might ooze when scratched; and infection of the areas where the skin has been broken.

How is Atopic Eczema Diagnosed?

Atopic eczema is usually diagnosed with an analysis of a person's history of symptoms and with an exam of the skin. A doctor might test an area of scaly or crusted skin to rule out other skin diseases or infections.

How is Atopic Eczema Treated?

Atopic eczema can be treated with medications, including over-the-counter creams and ointments containing the steroid hydrocortisone (for example, Cortizone-10, Cort-Aid, Dermarest Eczema, Neosporin Eczema). These products may help control the itching, swelling, and redness associated with eczema. Prescription-strength cortisone creams, as well as cortisone pills and shots, are also used for more severe cases of eczema.

For people with mild-to-moderate eczema, topical immunomodulators (TIMs) can help. TIMs work by altering the body's immune response to allergens, preventing flare-ups. In 2005, however, the FDA warned doctors to prescribe with caution certain TIMs brands due to concerns over a possible cancer risk associated with their use. The FDA "black box" warning on the packaging of those brands to alert doctors and patients to the potential risks. The warning advises doctors to prescribe short-term use of the brands only after other available eczema treatments have failed in adults and children over the two years old.

Other drugs that might be used for patients with eczema include antibiotics (to treat infected skin) and antihistamines (to help control itching).

Phototherapy is another treatment that helps some people with eczema. The ultraviolet light waves found in sunlight have been shown to benefit certain skin disorders, including eczema. Phototherapy uses ultraviolet light, either ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB), from special lamps to treat people with severe eczema.

Risks associated with phototherapy include burning (usually resembling mild sunburn), dry skin, itchy skin, freckling, and possible premature aging of the skin. Advice from a qualified health care professional shall be sought in order to minimize the risks.

Can Atopic Eczema Be Prevented?

Currently, there is no effective strategy for preventing atopic eczema, but the symptoms of the condition can improve. To improve the signs of eczema, the following practices may be observed:

• Reduce stress.

• Avoid scratchy materials (for example, wool) and chemicals such as harsh soaps, detergents, and solvents.

• Moisturize frequently.

• Avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity.

• Avoid situations that cause sweating and overheating.

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