Skin is the largest organ in our body. Skin acts as a protective barrier. It protects you from dirt, bacteria, ultra violet rays of the sun, and other foreign objects.
Skin contains numerous nerve endings which will let you know whether an object is soft or hard, hot or cold. Our skin also plays an important role in the regulation and maintenance of body fluids and temperature. The outermost layer of the skin is called epidermis, which is smooth and covered with hairs. The inner layer is a thick, strong and elastic layer of tissue known as dermis. The dermis is richly supplied with blood vessels and nerve endings. Healthy skin is smooth with no breaks in the surface. Healthy skin is a mirror of healthy body.
1. How should we maintain a healthy skin?
• Wash your body with a mild soap and water twice daily and dry thoroughly. Make sure that the skin folds and creases are dry. Avoid using antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps as this may reduce the skin's acidity. This in turn can lead to infection.
• Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing. Use moisturizing creams, lotions or gels depending on the nature of your skin. Creams and lotions are suitable for dry skin and gels are suitable for oily skin.
• Always apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 to 30 when you go outside. Make sure you apply a good sunscreen even in cloudy days. You should apply sunscreens half an hour before you go outside. You have to apply it every 2 hours if you are outdoor for a long time. It’s better to prefer a sunscreen gel in case of oily skin and creams or lotions in those with dry skin. Use an umbrella, long sleeves dresses and hats when you go outside in order to protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
• Maintain a good air circulation to the skin folds and creases mainly the underarms and groin as these areas are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections because of increase in moisture and warmth in these areas.
• Urine and stools are skin irritants. So these should be cleaned immediately to prevent skin irritation.
• Avoid using talc powders as it can keep the moisture in and can cause skin irritation.
2. How should we protect our skin?
• Diet - To keep your skin healthy you should include plenty of fruits , vegetables , protein containing foods, vitamin A, C, E , selenium ,zinc containing foods like almonds, pistachio , citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables in your diet as it may help in new collagen formation and there by maintaining healthy skin. You should take plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated and healthy.
• Blood circulation – Adequate blood circulation is necessary to maintain healthy skin. So avoid habits like smoking and treat diseases leading to compromised blood circulation.
Cigarette smoking - Smoking can causes constriction of small blood vessels and prevents blood, nutrients and oxygen to supply to the body tissues.
Vascular diseases – Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia can lead to narrowing of blood vessels and causes decreased blood flow to the skin.
• To keep your skin healthy you have to inspect it regularly. Look for any abnormal pigmentation, rashes, bumps, blisters, bruises, wounds, acne, and feel for any abnormal or decreased sensation, any thickening. Daily skin inspection is necessary. Do the skin inspection as a daily routine while during a time when you are undressed like before bathing, or before you get dressed in the morning.
4. How to prevent skin injuries?
• Pressure releases
Change your position according to your skin tolerance. In cases of bed ridden patients body parts can be padded with pillows in order to release pressure over bony prominence. Those who are using wheel chairs should use a wheel chair cushion.
• Extremes of temperature
Heat – Avoid sunburns by using sunscreens, covering up your body by long sleeve dresses, by using umbrella when you go outside.
Cold – Be sure that you dressed up warmly in order to prevent frost bite if you are outside in cold weather for a long period.
Proper fit is important. Too tight clothing can hinder air circulation.