As the new year begins, many of us take the time to reflect on our past year’s accomplishments and start setting goals to make changes in the coming year. If healthier skin is one of your New Year’s resolutions, U.S. Dermatology Partners physician Dr. Caitlin Farmer of Center for Dermatology in Plano and Flower Mound, Texas, has some advice to share. In today’s blog, Dr. Farmer walks through the top 5 recommendations to help you improve your skin in 2020 and jump start your skin health journey throughout the new year.
1 – Stay on Top of Chronic Skin Conditions
According to Dr. Farmer, “Many people who struggle with chronic skin conditions find themselves getting lax when it comes to keeping up with daily treatment and at-home care. What a lot of people don’t realize is that, without regular at-home care, chronic skin conditions may get worse and the resultant skin damage can be cumulative. I know it’s hard to squeeze additional tasks into your daily schedule. But, if you have a chronic skin condition, regular at-home care can really make a difference in helping to keep it in check.” Below, we’ve included some tips for handling common, chronic skin conditions.
If you have acne, your dermatologist can help you develop a custom plan to maintain healthy skin and avoid breakouts. Some of the basic tips your dermatologist will share with you include:
- You should wash your face at least two times each day. You should also wash your face after activities that cause sweating and make sure to completely remove makeup in the evening.
- For best results, find gentle cleansers that have the right ingredients for your skin. If you have very oily, acne-prone skin, look for facial cleansers with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid. If you have dry or sensitive acne-prone skin, look for cleansers that have moisturizers like glycerin or lactic acid that will be gentler on skin.
- It can be tempting to exfoliate often, especially if you’re trying to remove scabs or flaky skin cells after a bad breakout. However, exfoliating too much may remove healthy skin cells, and this can actually increase your risk of scarring.
- Many people with acne-prone skin are worried about oiliness, so they skip the moisturizer. This seems like a good idea in theory, but when the skin is dehydrated, your oil glands will actually start producing more oil to compensate. By applying a lightweight, pH balanced moisturizer, you’ll keep your skin hydrated and minimize your excess oil production and reduce the risk of breakouts.
- You should wear sunscreen. In addition to protecting your skin from sun damage that can lead to skin cancer, sunscreen will also help to protect your skin from unnecessary inflammation and irritation from the sun that may contribute to breakouts. Look for products that are specifically marked as non-comedogenic.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is actually the result of a disordered immune system. People with eczema will experience dry, irritated, bumpy, and itchy skin. This occurs when the disordered immune system believes some part of the body is damaged. It then overreacts to correct an issue that may or may not exist, leading to skin inflammation and irritation. If you have mild eczema, you may never receive an official diagnosis. For those who have severe, chronic eczema, you should work with a dermatologist to develop an effective skincare routine to limit flare-ups. Some basic skincare tips for eczema sufferers include:
- Stop the itching – before a flareup, most people with eczema experience itchy and irritated skin. However, when you scratch, you damage the skin which leads to the onset of a flare-up. Instead of scratching, use topical corticosteroids to control the itching.
- Stay moisturized – moisturizers, especially those with ceramides, are an essential part of your daily eczema skincare routine. During flareups, keeping skin moisturized soothes the irritated skin, and between flareups, keeping skin moisturized can prevent damage and inflammation that may lead to flareups.
- Don’t exfoliate – many people with eczema think that exfoliating their skin will remove the prickly, itchy bumps on the skin that often accompany eczema flareups. However, exfoliation can actually lead to further irritation and prolong your flareup.
- Wear sunscreen – sun damage can trigger inflammation and irritation that leads to an eczema flareup. Protect your skin from potential damage by applying sunscreen every day.
- Know your triggers – as is the case with so many chronic skin conditions, people with eczema often have specific triggers that lead to a flareup. By learning your triggers and avoiding them, you can decrease your number of annual flareups or reduce the severity when they occur.
Psoriasis can be very serious, and like eczema, it occurs as the result of an overactive immune system. You’ll need to work with your dermatologist to develop a plan for preventing and treating flareups. Some tips for everyday care include:
- Take baths daily – taking a daily soak in warm water with bath oil, colloidal oatmeal, or Epsom salts will help remove scales and soothe inflamed skin.
- Moisturize – following your bath, apply a thick cream or oil-based moisturizer. If your skin is extra dry, you may want to moisturize several times a day.
- Avoid triggers – there are many common triggers for psoriasis, including stress and alcohol consumption. By avoiding or limiting your exposure to these triggers, you can reduce flareups.
- Follow dermatologist instructions – don’t forget to carefully follow your dermatologist’s instructions to prevent and treat psoriasis. Even if your symptoms are under control, continue to follow daily care instructions to reduce your risk for a flareup.
Rosacea can be painful and irritating, but of the chronic skin conditions we’ve reviewed, it may actually be the most responsive to preventive care. Some of the common daily care recommendations for rosacea sufferers include:
- Know your triggers – most chronic skin conditions have triggers that lead to flareups but avoiding rosacea triggers may completely eliminate the problem for some patients.
- Avoid drying agents – many skincare products have ingredients like alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, camphor, and propylene glycol that can dry the skin. These drying agents can trigger rosacea flareups.
- Use gentle cleansers – the easiest way to avoid drying agents and other irritating ingredients is to find cleansers and moisturizers that have simple, mild ingredients. Look for products that are marked as hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Ask your dermatologist for specific recommendations.
- Wear sunscreen daily – sun exposure itself can trigger rosacea, but unfortunately, many sunscreens have ingredients that trigger rosacea. It can be beneficial to use a physical sunscreen. These sunscreen products use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead of chemicals to protect the skin from sun exposure. Niacinamide is another great sunscreen ingredient for rosacea sufferers.
- Moisturize daily – use a protective, healing cream or ointment moisturizer to coat the skin. This places a barrier to keep moisture in and soothe irritation and ease redness.
- Choose makeup carefully – makeups can really irritate the skin. Look for hypoallergenic makeup options and make sure to completely remove makeup at the end of the day.
2 – Create a Great Daily Skincare Routine
Whether you have a chronic skin condition to stay on top of or not, you should still keep up with a good daily care routine. A dermatologist can help you find the ideal products and skincare plan, but everyone can benefit from the following daily skincare steps:
- Wash your face – use a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water to wash your face in the morning, before you go to sleep at night, and after exercising or sweating.
- Moisturize – a light moisturizer or one with sunscreen is great for the morning. At night, you might want to use a thicker moisturizing cream since the body can lose moisture during sleep.
- Sunscreen – you need to wear sunscreen every day. No matter what the weather is like. UVA/UVB rays cause damage, increase signs of aging, and can lead to skin cancer.
3 – Don’t Forget to Take Care of Your Whole Body
You’ve heard the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, it’s partially right. More accurately, we are what we eat and drink. Eating a range of nutrient-dense foods and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water are essential aspects of any skincare routine. Like the rest of your body, the skin is made up of cells. Skin cells need to be shed and replaced regularly to maintain a healthy, even skin tone. In order to maintain healthy cell regrowth, your body needs to be well hydrated and have the right combination of nutrients available. Eating healthier and drinking more water can really impact the appearance of your skin.
In addition to what you eat and drink every day, you also need to get plenty of sleep. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. During the night, your body is constantly healing and repairing itself, so when you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t just feel tired – you look it too.
Finally, keep up with a daily exercise routine. This doesn’t necessarily need to be strenuous, but fit in a brisk walk, yoga class, or other forms of exercise as often as you can. Exercise keeps your body toned and firm, which means your skin is less likely to appear saggy or loose as you age.
4 – Consider Cosmetic Dermatology Treatments
As long as your skin is healthy, it should look and feel pretty good, but if there’s some aspect of your skin’s appearance that you don’t like, a dermatologist can help you make some changes. Some areas where cosmetic dermatology can be beneficial include:
- Uneven skin tone
- Dark spots or age spots
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Large moles or moles that “snag” or interfere with your daily life
- Removal of unwanted tattoos
5 – Visit Your Dermatologist for an Annual Skin Exam
Everyone would benefit from a trip to the dermatologist’s office at least once each year for a thorough skin exam to check for changes and areas of concern. Dr. Farmer also says, “We recommend our patients, especially those who have chronic skin conditions, sun damage, or are at high risk for skin cancer, perform self-exams regularly. Once a month, take a good look at your skin. You’re checking for discoloration, new moles, lumps, changes in existing moles and freckles. Just note anything out of the ordinary. If you find anything that concerns you, call your dermatologist.”
Improve Your Skin in the New Year with a Visit at U.S. Dermatology Partners
If you’re interested in working with Dr. Farmer, Center for Dermatology in Plano or Flower Mound, Texas, would love to hear from you. Otherwise, we invite you to complete our convenient online form. This quick request form gives our team all the information they need to get you started. Once our team receives your form, they’ll be in touch shortly to confirm your first appointment.
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