Maintaining Skin Health

From the outside in, starting self-care with your skin

Amongst all of the advice, tips and so called hacks that lie out on the internet machine, the skin has been the organ of choice for much false information, old wives tales and miracle-workers. Fear not, the first steps to healthy skin are not as drastic as you might think.

As with anything, it’s important to start with the basics before escalating up:

  • Baz Luhrman’s song did not lie: always wear sunscreen! Wearing sunscreen (or SPF on your face) protects your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause damage. This applies rain, hail or snow and at all time of the years. Protection from UV rays can lead to healthier, brighter and younger looking skin if applied correctly and appropriately – the Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart code is your best friend for further reference.
  • Make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. This does not mean you need to guzzle back litres upon litres – sipping slowly when you feel thirsty should suffice to keep some plumpness in the skin and nourish the body. Note that caffeine and alcohol can have a dehydrating affect, so extra care to stay hydrated then should be kept in mind.
  • A healthy, balanced and varied diet is key to skin health. Getting your recommended intake of fruit and vegetables that contain vitamin C will make sure that your natural collagen production is at peak capacity. Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E that help to keep the skin from getting dry and act as an extra layer to protect against damage.
  • With a healthy balanced said, there is no link to suggest that dairy, chocolate or any specific foods give you spots overall – moderation is key to the diet and you should discuss eliminating any foods from your diet with a health professional beforehand to make sure that this is OK to do.
  • Remember: when changing skincare habits, it can take up to 6 weeks before a difference can be seen – persistence is key, but if there are any signs of an allergy or intolerance stop ond refer back to your local Allcare pharmacy.

There are some more specialist cases of skin conditions, where your Allcare team can tailor advice to you and your needs. Some general nuggets of advice based on skin types or conditions to take into account include:

  • Dry or sensitive skin. This is caused by a lack of the natural moisturising factor in your skin that generally keeps it moist, resilient and glowing. If this is the case for you, frequent application of emollients such as silcock’s base, aqueous cream, Epaderm or E45 cream should be applied twice daily to the affected areas of the skin to keep them hydrated or prevent drying out, especially in cold or windy weather. This can reduce the tenderness of the area, making it more manageable.
  • Eczema or dermatitis. These are allergic skin conditions that are caused by excessive itching, dryness, redness and inflammation. For eczema, symptoms can be managed through use of emollients and prescribed or over the counter medicines. Other key tips are to make sure exposed areas of skin are protected using sunscreen, using cosmetics developed for sensitive skin and using non-irritant washing powers such as non-bio to prevent further itching or scratching. Wearing cotton gloves at night can also help prevent itching at night!

Acne prone skin leads to inflammation due to the buildup of oil and dead skin cells on the surface, that can be caused by hormonal changes. While the temptation is to pop pimples and scrub the skin, don’t! Mild cleansers are best recommended, as major mechanical damage otherwise this might lead to further disturbance and inflammation on the skin’s surface. Avoiding greasy or oil based make ups and cosmetics also helps.