How Your Skin Works
As the body’s largest organ, the skin is so prominent and all-encompassing that we often forget that it’s there until we have a problem with it. But when you think about this magnificent suit we’ve been given to “cover our innards,” it’s no wonder that we generally ignore it – it renews itself and heals itself so well that it needs no more care than minimal cleanliness and repair from time to time.
The skin is our interface (connection) with the outside world. It is present on the body to prevent the portable sea that is our tissue fluid and blood from evaporating. In short, the skin supports life in many unperceived ways. Did you know, for example, that the skin is the most efficient air-conditioning system ever known?
Blood flow through the skin is extremely effective in heat transfer to the outside environment from the internal one. Over the eons, the skin has developed evaporative and convective cooling to a fine art, so that the slightest change in our emotional state or ambient temperature causes subtle, nearly undetectable changes to control the temperature of our insides within an extremely narrow band.
Our eccrine, watery sweat glands secrete several liters of liquid daily that evaporates insensibly from our skins, taking the caloric heat of food and muscle metabolism with it into the air surrounding us. And if that weren’t enough, the skin’s blood vessels widen immediately upon these stresses so that convection currents can also expend heat into the environment.
On the other hand, if we didn’t have many of the components of skin, we would die of cold exposure at the slightest insult. The skin’s blood vessels clamp shut to preserve our core heat vital to life anytime we are exposed to cold. The skin’s fat layer (although many wish they had less fat layer!) acts like a thick layer of insulation for the vital structures below. Without it we could simply not preserve our body heat. It’s as simple as that.
Now think of the way the sin renews itself. It is a perfect suit covering the body, fitting every crevice, and as it ages it only sags a little-it never wears out, never! Every twenty-eight days we get an entirely new epidermis, from top to bottom! And a pool of non dividing cells is always at rest in the basement layers of the epidermis ready to take over the function of covering the body should they be needed.
Even in old age (and this may be one of the keys to getting old) there is population of resting young cells waiting to be released into the growth and proliferation phase. What if we could unlock these cells on our terms? Couldn’t we stay younger looking indefinitely?
Believe it or not, work such as this is currently under way. Regardless of how long it lasts, we must deal with the skin we have right now. The purpose of this article is to give you a plan of action and an instruction manual for a skin owner. Everyone needs directions on proper treatment of this complicated organ, and you are holding yours in your hand at this instant.
Basic Maintenance of Your Skin
Gentle soap and water, moisturizer, sunscreen, some Retin-A for resurfacing minor defects, and the knowledge of when to see the dermatologist. That’s it!
Maybe you think I’m kidding, but you don’t need all the magic miracle cures that so many companies are trying to sell you these days. “No one undergoes skin failure”, to quote Dr. Al Kligman. So slathering on ten or twenty different (and expensive) products for some imagined reason is not sensible.
Sensible care of your skin (basic maintenance) means the minimum you need to stay as cutaneously healthy as the next man or woman. And you see what you really need in the paragraph above. Each of the items I mention above will be talked about. Each item has its own place for discussion. The point to make right now is to stop heeding every commercial you hear about some new skin product that’s supposed to perform some magical feat.
There is no magic potion that will take care of all the problems with your skin. It just doesn’t exist. You are just buying hope. In the end you could be liable to suffering both physical and psychological problems. You wasted all your time and money and just made matters worse for you. This is the reality many acne victims are facing today.
The bottom line is that to understand good basic skin care you must determine first if you have any specific problems with your skin, treat them knowledgeably, and don’t get involved in expensive non cures for non problems.
The Real Skin Secret Is You!
Soon you’ll have all the information in your grasp to help your skin live a long, wrinkle-free, healthy, and beautiful life – so use it! You are the real secret to your skin health. You can make it all happen if you’ll just follow a few simple tips to healthy skin.
“What are the skin secrets I need to know to keep my body’s largest organ healthy and beautiful all my life?” Notice that the question was not “What can my doctor do to keep my skin healthy?” we now live in a world where responsibility for acting on information is ours, once we have it.
Here are some vital rules to keep you healthy:
- A baby’s kin is extremely fragile – don’t do anything to it that you don’t find absolutely necessary. Use a mild soap and don’t put medicated lotions and creams on an infant unless specifically ordered to do so by your pediatrician or dermatologist.
- When your children’s oil glands end their long hibernation in puberty, watch the child like a hawk. If you catch the acne process early, you may virtually save your children’s social lives. Insist on a regular cleansing program with soap and water and demand early dermatological care for any child with an acne problem.
- Avoid sunlight! It’s the single worst influence your skin will ever undergo. Just ask the 600,000 or so people (in the U.S. alone) who develop skin cancers every year. Use an SPF-15 sunscreen whenever you’ll be exposed to the sun.
- In my opinion, tanning parlors are a public menace. Remember that even the so-called safe systems of tanning beds can apparently cause problems as severe as cataracts, premature aging, skin cancer, and even changes in the immune system. Avoid them. Don’t physically fry your beautiful skin.
- Got something on you? Get it checked! Review the signs and symptoms of skin cancer at every opportunity. Procrastinating can allow benign lumps and bumps to get bigger and harder to remove. And for malignant problems of the skin, waiting too long can be fatal. Remember that skin cancers are easily cured if caught in time.
- Finally, get yourself and your family a dermatologist. In the final analysis, your dermatologist is the professional who best knows how to diagnose and treat skin diseases – not the allergist, pediatrician, gynecologist, or internist – the dermatologist! Skin is a dermatologist’s life! And within the vigilant help of your dermatologist, your skin will healthily last you all of yours!