The skin is the body’s protective layer, defending against the environment and regulating a person’s body temperature. As a person ages, the skin begins to change, losing its elasticity, increasing in dryness and forming wrinkles and age spots.
Skin damage is cumulative, which means much of the harm has taken place long before the results begin to appear. Even worse, excess sun exposure, tanning booths and smoking accelerates skin damage, creating premature aging.
It’s all about layers
Michelle Palazzo, plastic surgeon with Kleinert Kutz Surgery Center in affiliation with Floyd Memorial, explains the structure of the skin, “the skin is made up of a number of layers including the epidermis and the dermis.” • The thin epidermis is the layer visible to the world.
- Beneath the epidermis is the dermal layer that contains nerves, glands, strands of collagen protein that give the skin its structure and the protein elastin which provides elasticity.
- Underneath the dermal layer is the subcutaneous tissue, or fat layer which gives skin its plumped up look. “Health issues with your skin can be just as dangerous as other areas of your body,” added Dr. Palazzo. “Winter is a great time to have your skin examined by a specialist and to have any procedures performed, whether they be medical or cosmetic, because the skin usually has less exposure to sun during the winter months, improving healing and reducing the risk of scarring. However, it is important to remember that UVA rays are always present regardless of the season making it important to always wear sunblock. You should also always use a moisturizer with an SPF and don’t forget to include your neck and chest area as well as your hands.” Skin protection from the winter elements
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Be sure to use a daytime moisturizer with a high SPF. • Have your skin examined by a specialist, either a plastic surgeon or dermatologist.
- Perform regular self-exams on moles keeping the ABCD’s of skin cancer in mind: Asymmetrical shape, irregular Borders, Color changes and Dimension (larger than a pencil eraser).
- Avoid smoking, which causes the mouth and face to form wrinkles from repetitive facial motion. • Stay out of tanning beds. Self-tanning products can create the same look without permanently damaging the skin. But remember, self-tanning products do not contain an SPF.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting caffeine and alcohol.
- Use a humidifier at night during the winter months.