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How To Care For Your Skin and Prevent Sun Damage

Proper skin care helps prevent skin cancer and what better time to review prevention techniques than at the beginning of the warm summer months? May is listed in the Health and Wellness Calendar as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Prevention Month. Summer brings added risks of sun damage to your skin. It's a good time to remember why it is so important to protect ourselves from the effects of the sun's UV radiation. 

Risk Factors
Here's a list of the more important risk factors for skin cancer:
  • First and foremost your risk of skin cancer is related to the lifetime exposure to UV radiation
  • Most skin cancers occur after the age of 50
  • Light skin that freckels or burns easily.
  • People living in the South get more UV radiation than in the north. Higher altitudes also means more UV
  • Radiation therapy
  • Diseases that make the skin sensitive to sun
  • A family history of skin cancer or a personal history of previous skin cancer
  • Actinic keratosis--a type of flat, scaly growth on the skin most often found in areas of high sun exposure. These can become skin cancer.

Squamous and basal cell skin cancers are by far the most common, with 1 million new cases dignosed yearly. They can be cured if found and treated early. A change on the skin, such as a new growth, a sore that won't heal, or a change in an old growth are what to watch for. Most skin cancers are not painful. 
Much less common is melanoma, with about 54,000 cases a year. But melanoma is much more serious and must be caught early. It can spread throughout the body. Only early detection will prevent this. Here is a mnemonic to remember when checking your own skin for melanoma: 

A= asymmetry. It is not round or even in appearance 
B=Borders are irregular 
C=Color tends to vary in different part of the same mole 
D=Diameter is more than 6 millimeters 
If you think there is something new or a change on your skin then make a visit to your doctor. Sometimes a biopsy is necessary to really determine what the skin change is all about. 

In caring for yourself and your family please remember the following: 
  1. Protect a child's skin from the sun. Bad sunburns in childhood are often linked to skin cancer decades later. 
  2. Teach your children and teenagers to cleanse the skin regularly. This is especially helpful in keeping acne problems from multiplying. 
  3. Avoid the effect of direct sun. We all love the sun, but providing skin protection with proper hats, sun block and the like really helps. 
  4. Use moisturizers with sunscreen for routine day use; you can use moisturizing night cream without the UV protection. 
  5. Your face and hands need extra attention, since they suffer the most exposure. 
  6. With aging, the need to use heavier moisturizing creams, especially and night becomes more important. 
  7. Using good products regularly really do help fight the skin's signs of aging. 
  8. Always avoid harsh soaps, mild cleansers are better for the skin 
  9. Teach family members how to care for their skin properly from an early age. Even though that wonderful tan look has always been highly prized in our culture, excess sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. Teach both skin care and skin protection 
  10. Choose a good set of skin products, ones without harsh chemicals. Natural products that meet the strict cosmetic industry standards are available.
What Women Can Do To Keep Skin Looking Younger

It does not matter what size or shape we are, what color or race. As we age, our skin changes. Mature or aging skin functions less well than young adult skin. Young skin is well hydrated and smooth. Over times wrinkles start to appear--a result of the gradual lessening of the water content in the outer layer of our skin, the effects of lipids and sebum, plus the damaging effects of the sun over time. If you smoke, the added harmful effects of cigarette smoke and tar lead to the formation of harmful free radicals, which in turn weaken and collagen and elastin fibers of the skin. This results in even faster skin wrinkling. So, if for no other reason--stop smoking and save that youthful appearance! 
As women get older, and especially after menopause, reduced estrogen level may lead to more drying of the outer layer of skin. This in turn tends to make the mature skin look thinner and older, more apt to be fragile and easily bruised. Small blood vessels become more easily broken. 
So what can we do to put moisture back, slow the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, or in short just try and turn back the clock a bit. 
  • First getting rid of skin impurities while fortifying and building new cells will help with this process. Therefore, proper cleansing using cleansers that do not strip extra moisture from the skin is important. 
  • Second, refining the skin to properly close pores will get the skin ready to receive a good moisturizer. 
  • Third, fortify the skin to protect it again the damaging effects of UV light. There are natural products that accomplish this, such as those containing ecotin. Ectoin, a natural flora found in Egyptian waters, strengthens the skin's immune defense against UV light by protecting Langerhans cells.
  • Fourth, use a good moisturizer on the skin. Certain moisturizers have Nanomins, a microscopic liposome small enough to penetrate pores and carry vitamin A, E & B deep into the layers of the skin. These vitamins have both moisturizing effects and antioxidant properties, and both factors help increase the moisture barrier repair. During the day use a moisturizing lotion or cream that also has properties of UV ray protection. Titanium dioxide is a very useful ingredient that protects against UV rays. Always remember to use a night cream, one without sunscreens is fine. 

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