Skin in the Game

Your skin that is.  Did you know that your skin is one of your most important organs in your body?  It certainly is the largest.  It has a variety of functions.  It is a barrier that shields you from toxins and infectious agents in the environment.  It produces hormones, including Vitamin D3.  It keeps you from evaporating.  It keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Burn patients who lose parts of their skin are at significant risk of dying from infections.  And evaporating. And loosing heat.

Your skin can be a good indicator of your overall health.  If you aren’t healthy, your skin shows it.  If your liver is failing, it turns yellow from the extra bilirubin in your body.  If your blood vessels are narrowed, the perfusion to your skin decreases and its discolored and heals poorly.  If your immune system is attacking organs in your body, the skin is often included.  Many diseases are diagnosed by their effect on the skin.

For healthy aging, we need to take care of our skin. Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 5.36.28 PMWhat hurts it the most?  The number one way to damage your skin is to get too much exposure to sun.  It damages the skin making it age prematurely, wrinkle, thin and grow things that look bad or are bad (melanoma). Get ready to make lots of visits to the dermatologist!   Look at the skin on your face or arms.  Compare that to your butt.  Unless you’re a nudist, you’ll see the skin on your butt being much smoother, firmer and clear.  Number two is probably smoking.  Yes, smoking.  Smoke from cigarettes damages the blood vessels in the body including those in the skin.  As your skin wrinkles and suffers from this, so do your coronary arteries and those to your brain, kidneys and other vital organs.

Like other parts of your body, changes to the skin occur normally with aging.  It thins, sags and wrinkles, with loss of the fibrous tissues (connective tissue) that keeps it firm.  You can keep your skin in as good a shape as possible, healthier, and more able to perform its important functions by following a few simple rules.  If you have any interest in your health, you’ve already stopped smoking.  The other single best way to keep the ageing down to a dull roar is to liberally use sun screen when exposed to the sun for more than brief periods or to stay covered.  Wear a hat and remember hair thins with aging and exposes your scalp to the sun.  Keep it healthy as well.

Do various lotions and potions you can rub on your skin to tighten it, moisturize it, nourish it, or whatever make a big difference?  The cosmetic and skin care industry would certainly like you to think so.  But alas, other than some moisturizing, there is no magic potion yet discovered.  The good news is that other than hurting your wallet, these products probably won’t hurt your skin.  How much they help is another story.

Author: turning60andbeyond

Sandi Feaster is a registered nurse and health educator. She has worked in the corporate world as well as taken care of people with chronic health conditions. Sandi is convinced that we can improve our lives by educating ourselves and learning how we can curate the life we want. It may seem simple, but exercise and eating healthy food is the foundation of a longer, healthier and engaged life.

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