Ever wondered what is required for a healthy and fresh skin, especially in your 30s? In this article, Dr Jawahar Mansukhani, Consultant Dermatologist of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital addresses common patient questions pertaining skin care, ageing and hygiene…
Your skin does many things. It protects you from the environment, helps control your body temperature as well as fluid and electrolyte balance. It also contains nerve receptors that allow you to feel sensations such as touch, pain, and pressure. In scientific terms, skin hygiene is essential for the maintenance of your general health. As you step into the fourth decade of your existence, your skin care shifts from just maintaining good hygiene to the enhancement of looks and delaying of age-related changes.
Some questions that we frequently hear from patients include, “How do I retain my skin glow and prevent blemishes and wrinkling?”, “Why does my perspiration smell, I can’t socialize because of it?”, “Which soap should I use for bath?”, “Does junk food affect the skin appearance?”, etc. Here, we look into some of these concerns…
Dietary correction and water intake
A well-balanced diet with proper hydration is important and a primary requirement to maintain a healthy skin. Dietary correction helps in correcting many skin afflictions. Water intake of around 3-4 litres per day helps to hydrate the skin and brings a glow it to some extent. Also, Vitamin C deficiency in smokers needs to be replenished as it leads to ageing early in life. Putting a stop to cigarette smoking is certainly a better option.
Care from sun damage
Immediate attention to skin ailments, sun damage and injury helps in a faster and complete recovery of skin texture. Always use a sunscreen if your lifestyle needs you to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is the amount needed to completely cover the body. Be sure it has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection. Apply sunscreen well to the face, ears, hands and arms 15 to 20 minutes before going outdoors. Re-apply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or strenuous activity. A hat and outfit covering maximum skin surface reduce the amount of sunscreen required.
Cleansing and exfoliation
Your skin sheds dead cells and is continuously replaced with fresh layers. It is exposed to dust, germs and excreted metabolic end products. A regular bath with soap or shower gel helps in exfoliation and maintains the required hygiene. The frequency of bath may vary with the amount and odour of sweat. It also depends upon the season of the year and your kind of job, if it entails indoor work or exposure to sun, dust and grime. The degree and frequency of usage of cosmetics too may influence the cleansing of the skin. Those who are involved in active sports or workout to a sweat would do well to take a bath again after the activity.
As the oil secretions reduce after adolescence, switching over to a mild soap or a bathing gel is recommended. Germicidal or antiseptic soaps are not essential for the daily bath, a mild soap will do the job adequately. You can use a bath sponge, back brush and heel scrubbers for scrubbing. Ensure that you avoid abrasive materials. Other things to keep in mind are rinsing the soap well after using and drying with a clean towel. It is also best to avoid sharing soaps and towels.
A moisturising oil or cream can be used for soft skin. It is better to use this at night, as when the wet skin is exposed to sun or dusty roads, the dust sticks and the oil may give you a tan.
What you need to know about sweat and odour
The body has nearly two million sweat glands which produce three quarts to one pint of sweat in a day. In tropical locations, like ours, naturally, more sweat is produced. To top that, the perspiration level increases with more physical exertion or tension. Fresh perspiration, when allowed to evaporate does not cause body odour. However, an offensive smell is caused when bacteria present on the skin get to work on the sweat and decompose it. This is especially so in the underarm and feet or in the clothing that has absorbed sweat.
Diet influences the odour too. Fungal infection in the folds is commonly seen with poor hygiene. Two baths a day, with liberal lathering and change of clothes in close contact with the body, should take care of the problem. Talcum powders, of the non-medicated kind, can be used under the armpits. Deodorants or antiperspirants can be applied too.
Personal hygiene is the first step to good grooming and good health. Some issues may be genetically influenced and not your fault at all, but improving standards of hygiene will help control them. Dandruff is one such example. Keep in mind that personal hygiene is very important because no-one likes to be close to a person who stinks and is dirty.
This in brief outlines the need to care for our skin. Remember, proper skin care is important not just for our physical but also mental health!
Dr. Jawahar Mansukhani is a Consultant Dermatologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai