Though it is the body’s largest organ, the skin seems to go unnoticed. We see it everywhere on ourselves and yet most of us know only a little about the job – or jobs – it is doing. Overlooked, the skin works without thanks, and often without the care that could help keep it healthy. So, it’s fortunate that Thanksgiving and National Healthy Skin Month both take place in November.
The skin consists of layers – and even layers within layers. It is, by no means, as simple as it looks on the surface. In addition to defending us from germs and contaminants, protecting and supporting our internal organs, and helping to regulate body temperature, the skin plays a surprising role in nutrition by storing energy and metabolizing it when it is needed.
Strange as the idea may seem, the skin is an organ in every respect, and so caring for it must go beneath the surface.
Caring for a Prized Asset
Thankfully, there are as many ways to care for our skin as there are jobs it is doing for us. Moisturizing is a good idea to start with. It might be the care that people think of first, and yet moisturizing includes the skin-care step most likely to be overlooked. Drinking plenty of water is at least as important as any cream or lotion we might apply, and eight glasses a day is about the right amount.
You can nourish your skin by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, especially vitamin C workhorses such as oranges, sweet potatoes, berries, and broccoli. Avocados are a source of Vitamin E, great for the skin and a tasty addition to sandwiches and salads.
Getting enough sleep and managing stress is good for everything from your skin to your outlook. Sleep refreshes you outside as well as inside. Regular exercise is yet another example of better self-care as better skin care, too. Sleep and exercise are just two stress reduction options, and they’re important because stress shows up in skin texture, color, and lines.
And in case we needed even one more reason to stop smoking, then think about your skin. Smoking ages skin prematurely by decreasing blood flow and cutting off oxygen and nutrients. Puffing and squinting come with smoke, and they make lines around the mouth and eyes, too.
Cancer Protection Means Watchful Awareness
Early detection is vital, because one in five of us will develop skin cancer. Those of us fortunate to live on the coast have a special challenge, because we live even more of our lives outdoors. Limiting exposure to the sun with hats and clothing, and wearing sunscreen year-round, are important ideas that are catching on.
Let’s add to this routine an annual skin cancer screening. November is a good time for this because skin color usually has paled somewhat since the summer, making any irregularities easier to see. Thanksgiving can be a fine reminder to get a once-over with the trained eye of our family physician.
We’d be glad to help you start taking better care of your skin now, in National Healthy Skin Month, or anytime. Just call us at 843-815-6468 to get started.