While we dedicate a significant portion of our time optimizing diet and incorporating specific exercise routines for maintaining a healthy body, we often neglect our largest organ – the skin. As the external layer of the body, our skin is continuously subjected to the environment the body’s own process called elastosis. Just like any other organ, the skin ages with the passage of time and becomes weaker, which subsequently reduces its effectiveness in performing its functions as well as its skin integrity. While aging is a natural process which cannot be avoided, there are ways to minimize its impact on healthy skin.
Why is our Skin Important?
The skin is a very significant organ or numerous reasons, such as but not limited to:
- Maintaining optimum body temperature
- Supplying the body with sensory information for perceiving the environment
- Functioning as the first and foremost barrier against bacteria, viruses and foreign contaminants
- Most Importantly, giving the body its aesthetic appeal
The Ravages of Time on Skin
With age, the dense network of blood vessels under the skin begins to shrivel, which reduces the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to the skin. Consequently, the epidermis becomes weaker and begins showing signs of aging, the most visible being loose wrinkles and sagging skin. This also compromises its functionality, as its ability to provide insulation, maintaining optimum body temperature and sending sensory signals begins to dim. This also increases the risk of impaired skin integrity.
Dry and cold weather extremities can also harm skin, as it causes the skin to dry out and crack, which provides openings for infectious bacteria and viruses to wreak havoc. The skin on face, feet, and hands are most prone to these issues as they are relatively thinner and on average, most exposed to external factors.
Medical Issues Requiring Additional Care
While our epidermis is resistant to injuries and can regenerate itself, other medical conditions can become contributing factors towards complicating its well-being. Following are the most common medical issues which are often ignored as causative elements for unhealthy skin:
- Fractures: Casts are required for keeping the fractured bones in a stable position, which significantly complicate direct access to epidermis surrounding the fractured area. Moreover, fractures of major bones such as hips and spine can render a person immobile for long periods of time, resulting in sores.
- Extended Periods of Immobility: Continuous pressure on the skin from sitting or lying in one position for extended periods of time owing to immobility from fractures or recovery from surgery can cause bedsores and dry skin.
- Unhealthy Weight Loss: The layer of underlying adipose tissue is critical for healthy skin. Rapid and unhealthy weight loss causes sudden changes in the capillary network which negatively impacts skin health.
- Diabetes: The issues with low blood sugar levels and dietary limitation can restrict access to normal nutritional intake. Care should be taken to draft proper diet plans and adhering to them.
- Unhealthy Nutrition: Junk food and unbalanced diets do not supply the skin with sufficient nutritional intake for maintaining its health.
- Smoking and Drug Abuse: Smoking introduces a host of carcinogenic compounds, especially nicotine and tar, which constrict and block the blood vessels, hence restricting blood flow to the skin. The combined effects of smoking and drug abuse are catastrophic for the entire body in general.
- Nerve Injuries: Nerve injury affect the perception of sensory signals from injury, the onset of skin conditions and environmental extremes and causes the patient to ignore any injury to the skin.
- Dementia: The impact on memory causes the patient to often forget taking proper, balanced meals as well as even the most basic skin care, which are compulsory for healthy skin.
Taking Care of Your Skin
Following proper skin care is imperative for maintaining healthy skin. With the following plan, you can minimize impaired skin integrity and reduce the risks of further skin damage by keeping it healthy:
- Drink sufficient water to remain hydrated at all times
- Visit a skin care specialist and get a full impaired skin integrity plan
- Consume nutritionally balanced meals on time.
- Cut back on the intake of saturated fats, swapping them for unsaturated healthy fats.
- Consume the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamins and essential minerals.
- Refrain from using extremely hot or cold water for washing skin, as it causes the skin to lose moisture and causes drying.
- Use medically recommended products for countering dry skin and UV protection.
- Exercise on a regular basis as it enhances overall health and increases blood flow to the skin, providing it with much-needed nutrients and oxygen.
Your Skin, Your Responsibility
Aging is a natural process which cannot be avoided although proper care, balanced nutrition and incorporating healthy habits within everyday routine can promote longevity. Healthy skin means better overall health, so taking good care of skin is essential for a healthy, active lifestyle.