Three-Step Daily Skincare

For daily skincare, limit your regimen to three simple steps: cleaning, protecting your skin from the sun, and tending to any specific skin problems you may have such as dry skin, acne, or fine lines and wrinkles. Products for all three steps are available for very little cost at retail stores. Buying expensive skincare lotions with exotic or pseudoscientific names will not produce better results.

1. Clean your skin. Choose your skin cleanser based on whether your skin is dry or oily. If you have dry skin, choose a mild cleaning agent and avoid products including toners that contain alcohol. For oily skin, choose a face wash/cleanser that removes excess oil and reduces shine. Facial blotting sheets are inexpensive and effective options for absorbing excess skin oil. They are preferred over washing our face multiple times which actually increases oil secretion

2. Protect your skin from the sun. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wear it every day. Higher SPFs are useful if you plan to spend hours outdoors, but if you spend most of your time indoors, SPF 30 is generally sufficient. If you have skin that’s easily irritated, choose a sunscreen designed for sensitive skin. There are gel, lotion and aqua fluid formulations for oily, dry and combination skin. It is a myth that sunscreen causes pimples or causes darkening. Ask your Dermatologist to prescribe the right formulation

3. Treat your particular skin needs. For dry skin, effective and inexpensive moisturisers are available. The first line of defence against dry skin is a moisturiser that softens and smooths skin with water and lipids (fats). Some moisturisers attract water to the skin and seal it in, while others prevent skin from losing water by coating it with a thick, impermeable layer.

For acne-prone skin, the first line of treatment usually falls into one of these two categories:

Salicylic acid washes: These formulas loosen dead skin cells and help dislodge plugs from pore openings, seen as whiteheads and blackheads. Salicylic acid washes are available in over-the-counter and prescription formulations. Avoid using salicylic acid if your skin is sensitive which can happen in a few patients with adult acne.

Benzoyl peroxide gels, lotions, and washes: These products reduce inflammation, and bacterial load and may help clear blocked pores. They are available in over-the-counter and prescription versions. They can induce side effects such as dry and peeling skin if the formulation is too strong or is used excessively, or if a person has very sensitive skin. Use a good moisturiser to keep the skin barrier normal while using these products. Very strong preparations can cause bleaching of the skin sometimes.

If you want to try a product that moderately reduces lines and wrinkles or fades brown spots, a variety of products that you can use daily are available. A few cosmeceuticals show some promise in protecting against the effects of ageing and photo-damage. Studies demonstrate that they smooth skin texture, diminish wrinkles and age spots, and reduce the yellow hue that comes with age. Consult your dermatologist who can guide and prescribe such treatments that are suitable to your needs.

How to do a Skin Self-Exam

To detect skin cancer early, examine your skin all over your body and watch for changes over time. By checking your skin regularly, you’ll learn what is normal for you. The best time to check your skin is after a shower or bath. Use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror in a room with plenty of light. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor.

The National Cancer Institute in the USA recommends these steps to check yourself from head to toe:

  1. Look at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so that you can see better. It may be hard to check your scalp by yourself, so consider asking a relative or friend to check through your hair.

  2. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then, raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.

  3. Bend your elbows. Look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides), and upper arms.

  4. Check the back, front, and sides of your legs. Also, check the skin all over your buttocks and genital area.

  5. Sit and closely examine your feet, including your toenails, the soles of your feet, and the spaces between your toes.

Learn where your moles are and their usual look and feel. Check for anything different, such as

  • a new mole (that looks different from your other moles)

  • a new red or darker-coloured flaky patch that may be a little raised

  • a change in the size, shape, colour, or feel of a mole

  • a sore that doesn’t heal

  • a new flesh-coloured firm bump.

Write down the dates of your skin self-exams and make notes on how your skin looks on those dates. You may find it helpful to take photos so you can check for changes over time.

April 3, 2023

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