Spring cleaning for your skin

4 Bad Habits and How to Fix Them

Dr. Marci Pepine, a board certified dermatologist at Adult and Pediatric Dermatology in Lakeland and a Polk County Medical Association member, has certainly seen her share of skin related problems and needs. What strikes hardest for her is that so many of the problems she encounters are completely preventable. Dr. Pepine calls attention to four habits in particular that not only hurt your skin, but also damage your overall health.

  1. Tanning. Whether its artificial tanning (tanning beds) or natural tanning (direct sunlight), tanning is bad for your skin. Melanoma is the fastest rising cancer in young people, and people who use tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma compared to those who don’t. Not only does tanning increase the rates of melanoma, it increases the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers too: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Tanning is also known to cause premature aging.

Doctor’s advice: Don’t tan. Dr. Pepine recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. Look at the ingredients and make sure it contains a physical blocker like titanium or zinc oxide, which blocks all wavelengths of light. The rule of thumb: apply one ounce of sunscreen all over the body every two hours while out in the sun. Dr. Pepine also recommends wearing sun protective clothing, particularly those with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) such as shirts and rash guards, in addition to broad brimmed hats and sunglasses. If you are someone, who can’t live without the golden glow, spray on tans and self tanners are safe alternatives.

  1. Smoking. Smoking is known to cause many health issues, such as lung cancer, but it is also harmful to your skin. Smoking causes premature aging, and those dreaded tiny lines around the mouth, which for women cause lipstick to pool. It also increases your risk of skin cancer.

Doctor’s advice: Quit smoking. If you can’t quit on your own, Dr. Pepine recommends consulting with your primary care physician to find a smoking cessation program that will work for you.

  1. Manicures and Pedicures. You might wonder how something that feels so wonderful and makes you look so polished can be bad for you. Dr. Pepine has treated many patients who suffer from skin issues as a result of manicures and pedicures. Not only can these procedures increase the risk of infection (bacterial and fungal), they can also cause rashes if you are allergic to ingredients in the polish, artificial nail, or glue. Contact dermatitis can present as an itchy red scaly and bumpy rash on the hands, around nails, and even on eyelids.

Doctor’s advice: Choose wisely. Make sure salon professionals wash their hands between clients, and ensure the instruments are properly cleaned. Dr. Pepine recommends professionals wear gloves and change them between clients. If you are a mani/pedi zealot, Dr. Pepine recommends purchasing your own set of instruments and bringing them with you to the salon. She says it’s worth the investment and added security.

  1. Tattoos and Piercings. The most common form of self expression, tattoos and piercings, can unfortunately be very damaging for your skin. These body art lovers might suffer from contact dermatitis caused from the ink in tattoos or the metal in the piercings. Other issues include more serious infections like Hepatitis B, C and HIV. Piercings can also cause terrible scarring in patients who are keloid formers.

Doctor’s advice: Do your research. Dr. Pepine and other dermatologists can conduct a skin test to determine if patients might be allergic to tattoo ink. She also recommends that people with piercings follow their salon’s advice for care and cleaning.

For more tips on keeping your skin beautiful, visit the American Academy of Dermatology website at http://www.aad.org/. The site offers a section titled “For the Public” that includes engaging expert insights into the care and treatment of your skin, hair and nails.


story by JO LYNN DEAL

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