The five worst enemies of skin
It's commonly said that at age 20 you have the skin you inherited, at 40 the skin you deserve and at 60 the skin you earned. So you may be born with the best skin, but your lifestyle _ internal and external, personal and social _ decides what you deserve and earn. Most of it is under your control, so take note.
ENEMY #1: SUN
- What can the sun do to the skin, and how would you treat it?
It can't be emphasised enough that the sun is one of the greatest enemies of unprotected skin as it causes irregular texture, wrinkles, pigmentation and dullness. Although you need vitamin D from sunlight, we all know too much of the sun is destructive to the skin.
UVA rays from the sun can penetrate deep into your skin and damage collagen, which is the protein that holds your skin together in a firm and smooth way. Overexposure to the sun's rays can also result in hyperpigmentation or even painful sunburn. The best way to avoid it is to keep away from the sun, or to use a good sunscreen with UVA, UVB and PA++. However, if you've already got a bad burn, then you may need to see a dermatologist and usually applying a prescribed cream rich in Vitamin A should be helpful.
To treat pigmentation or discolouration, we can use a laser that emits light in a single wavelength to remove unwanted pigment. It's particularly effective in treating discrete lesions.
ENEMY #2: TOBACCO
- What are the affects of tobacco on the skin and what are the treatments to reverse it?
Smoking is one of the worst things for your skin as it deprives the skin from oxygen, causing some smokers to look a pale grey colour and have low skin-healing abilities. Smokers are also much more likely to have dehydrated skin that suffers a chronic deficiency of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, which is required for the production of collagen.
Obviously, start with minimising smoking. Other things you could do are avoiding dehydration of your skin by drinking plenty of water and using a proper moisturiser. We can also take vitamin C and antioxidant supplements to improve the skin's wrinkles and use lasers to stimulate collagen production. You may also want to get a regular skin detox along with infrared, lymphatic massage or oxygen therapy.
ENEMY #3: LACK OF SLEEP
- How does a lack of sleep take its toll on our skin?
Whatever the reason, be it stress, being overworked, or a hectic social life, if you aren't getting enough sleep, it's going to be reflected in the condition of your skin. You're going to see sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. Even worse, chronic sleep loss can lead to fine lines and dark circles under the eyes.
The only way to get rid of these, or maintain results of any treatment, is to work on your sleeping patterns. For those of you who feel that even after getting rest, you continue to receive comments on how tired you look, then maybe you have developed dark circles.
An eye-lift treatment can be used to help improve the drainage around the eye area. Vascular laser treatment works to get rid of the dark appearance. Fillers may also be needed to plump up the hollowness under the eyes, and is a great option for people who want little downtime. The results last about a year.
ENEMY #4: CHANGE IN WEIGHT
- What does a shift in weight have to do with the skin?
Our skin isn't an elastic band, so a drastic weight gain is likely to result in stretch marks and a sudden weight-loss in sagging skin. That's why it's always recommended to try to maintain a stable weight, avoid yo-yo diets, and lose weight slowly and steadily.
If your stretch marks are still in the early stages then vascular laser treatment can be used to reduce inflammation. To treat stretch marks that have already developed, we can use sublative radio frequency to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in the dermal layer of the skin, where stretch marks are formed.
If you are not ready for laser therapy, then a vitamin A acid cream may be helpful. For sagging skin, Thermage and Ulthera work well. These use radiofrequency and thermal-coagulation to tighten the skin.
ENEMY #5: WEATHER AND ENVIRONMENT
- What effects does the environment have on our skin?
Dry weather, polluted air, a dusty environment and an internally stressful body environment are harmful to the skin. These can cause damage to skin cells, causing deterioration of the skin's support structures, decreasing collagen.
Air pollutants can interfere with the skin's ability to regulate moisture levels _ the skin may become dry and scaly or the pores may close, causing pimples and blackheads. Free radical damage accelerates the process of ageing. Stress can cause dull skin, fine lines from frowning, and also dryness, as stress reduces the lipid barrier on the skin, which works as a natural moisturiser.
If you have dry skin, do not over-wash your face _ use only water when there's no make-up to be removed. Use thick moisturisers that will keep your skin moist all day, and wrinkles caused by dryness should eventually disappear. Antioxidants _ particularly vitamins A, C and E _ can help to block damage caused by free radicals as well as improve fine lines. Chemical peels also help improve and remove fine lines and wrinkles.
Dr Nantapat Supannachart is an American board-certified dermatologist and laser surgeon. Call 080-500-0123 or visit www.apexprofoundbeauty.com