The unusually warm winter is winding up, and summer is just around the corner. Everyone is eager to dust off the bikinis and beach bags, but with the sunny Aussie lifestyle comes a number of risks to our skin.
Just how can you look after your skin better?
Dr Sam runs us through his top ten tips for perfect skin.
1. Be gentle!
Our skin is a sensitive organ. Sure, it’s tough and creates a great barrier to what life throws at it, but if you’re too rough with your skin, then it doesn’t work as well as it should. Don’t over wash or scrub your skin. Once a day is more than adequate.
Avoid heavy soaps or ones with lots of fragrance in them. These tend to dry the skin by taking out all the natural oils. Dry skin cracks, which makes it itchy, plus susceptible to allergic like reactions or infections. Use a good quality soap-free wash, especially on your face.
Shave carefully! Constant use of razors especially old blunt and rusty ones damages the top layer of the skin. Change your razors regularly, or even consider laser hair removal for troublesome patches.
Lastly, dry yourself gently. Don’t rub too hard, just pat yourself all over. This is especially important in the groin and under boob area where tinea is most common.
2. Protect yourself from the sun
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancers in the world, especially the deadly melanomas. It’s been drummed into us since we were kids – ‘Slip, slop, slap’ is a slogan we are all familiar with. But it never ceases to amaze me how many people ignore it!
The key points? Wear sunscreen, seek out the shade not the sun – especially in the middle of the day, and wear hats. But sun damage doesn’t just give you skin cancer – it also ages your skin, BIG time. So use moisturisers or make up products with sun protection in them too. Want to keep your skin in tip top condition? Then stay out of the sun.
3. Don’t smoke
This should be an easy one – smoking makes you look OLDER! Smoking is BAD for your skin, as it damages the microscopic collagen and elastin networks in the skin, causing it to sag and wrinkle. Plus, the constant sucking on a fag leads to the horrible wrinkles around the mouth. If you smoke, then the absolute best way you can care for your skin is to quit. Chat to your doctor now for options.
4. Avoid the sugar diabetes
Poor sugar control that comes with diabetes leads to long term damage of blood vessels, especially the smallest ones in our extremities. As the damage progresses, blood flow reduces, and diabetics are at risk of bad skin infections and ulcers, not to mention gangrene of the toes. Plus, diabetes leads to a number of other unsightly rashes, fungal infections, or pigmentation such as acanthosis nigricans.
5. Hydrate your skin – inside and out!
Drinking plenty of water is paramount to healthy happy skin. Dry skin needs moisturising. And the simple rule is – if it’s dry, then put more on! That might be once a day, or every hour. Sorbolene is fine, but there are many other products that can be used.
Avoid fancy fragranced products, or ones with alcohol in them – they often make your skin worse. Oh, and just because its ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ doesn’t mean its good for your skin. In fact, many natural compounds are skin sensitisers, leading to reactions or allergic reactions. Don’t forget: poison ivy is 100% natural!
6. Manage acne
Acne can be devastating. Whilst it effects teenagers with wanton abandon, spots can flare at any stage, and unfortunately adults can suffer outbreaks years after they said goodbye to the schoolyard zits. Acne can be large and cause unsightly lesions. Plus, when severe, they can leave long lasting scars.
One of the best tips I can give is manage any acne spots early. Be gentle with your skin; use soft non-soap cleansers, even with products such as salicylic acid in them; don’t poke and pop your zits (or at least have clean hands if you do); and use a light moisturiser daily. But above all, see your doctor early if they remain stubborn. Your doctor can help confirm your spots are in fact acne, and ramp up treatment as required. But sometimes, what looks like acne is in fact other conditions such as rosacea or peri-oral dermatitis– which need entirely different treatment plans.
7. Never sleep with makeup on
Too much makeup left on the skin for too long blocks pores and increases the likelihood of skin reactions. Use a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturiser at the end of each day to keep your face looking and feeling amazing!
8. Avoid stress
When we are stressed, we just don’t look after ourselves very well. Whether it be missing a trip to the gym, a few extra beers, or a dodgy kebab here and there – it all adds up. Immunity drops, hydration levels suffer, and skin care techniques are thrown out the window. Then there’s all the stress hormones flying round the body that can exacerbate any rashes or skin conditions lurking in the background – such as psoriasis or eczema. So rethink those extra hours at the desk, get out and active, spend time with family, and consider seeing a psychologist if life is a bit overwhelming.
9. A little bit of botox won’t hurt either
This is an interesting one! Botulinum toxin (Botox or Dysport) is an increasingly popular beauty product, used to freeze muscles of the face, helping to soften wrinkles and lines.
Whilst it certainly hits the hip pocket, it does have added bonuses. By smoothing the skin people tend to use less makeup. Plus, sweating is reduced in treated areas, which enhances the overall look and helps reduce makeup use.
10. Get a skin check
It never ceases to amaze me how many people suffer for months with troublesome bumps or rashes, only to find a simple fix could have solved all their woes. If you’re worried about your skin ask your GP early for help. If they’re stumped, then they may need to get the skin specialists involved.
All Aussies should see a doctor regularly to check for any skin cancers as well.