“Because you live in your skin.” A good skin care regimen and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems, such as skin cancer. 

The largest organ in your body is your skin, yet is something many take for granted. The purpose of skin is to protect your body and other organs from injuries and outside germs.  It helps the body make Vitamin D; helps regulate body temperature; protects the body from ultraviolet rays; and prevents the loss of body fluids.

Right before my 50th birthday last May, I met with a skin doctor because of a tick bite on my wrist that didn’t heal properly, and my husband had pointed out a mole on my shoulder that just seemed odd.  Turns out that mole was early stage melanoma.  I never saw that coming. The skin doctor was surprised as well. 

You should pay close attention to your skin…all of it…every nook and cranny. Be familiar with your skin so that you’ll notice any changes that might occur. And make sure to meet with a skin doctor, like I did, whenever there is a question or concern.

Your skin constantly changes and will do so throughout your life. Mine became more sensitive after breast cancer treatment (chemo) in 2014; hence the surprise melanoma spot that popped up about 6 months later.  I was staying out of the sun in that timeframe too.
The good news is that your skin regenerates itself approximately every 30 days.  It is definitely important to take care of your skin…so prioritize and maintain the health of this very protective organ.

You can get started with these 5 easy ways to keep your skin healthy:
  • Maintain a good diet. Make sure you are getting the right nutrients since your skin regenerates itself constantly. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and the right kind of fats. For example, foods rich in essential fatty acids like in walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can help skin cells stay hydrated. A healthy diet of 3 to 5 servings of fatty acids per week is fine for the average person.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water helps with digestion, blood circulation, nutrition absorption, and toxin elimination. Drinking water will ensure that the nutrients are delivered to your skin cells, keeping them hydrated and “plump.” When skin cells aren’t hydrated enough, the appearance of your skin will change.
  • Clean your skin regularly and use a gentle soap. It’s best to keep this step simple. Cleaning your skin should be about removing dirt, germs and excess oil – but not the healthy cells and normal moisture. Find a gentle cleanser that will get the job done. Something that is too harsh will cause dryness and possible rashes.
  • Moisturize daily. The Mayo Clinic recommends you use a moisturizer that fits your skin type, even if it’s oily. It’s a good idea to use unscented products; the scent comes from a multitude of chemicals and that can irritate your skin. Also check the labels carefully and avoid those that are petroleum derived products (like baby oil). These can leave a residue and clog pores, and many of the additives are considered carcinogens and hormone disruptors. Products using natural oils and ingredients are best. Good examples are grapeseed oil and avocado oil - and both are also natural antioxidants.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing. There are a lot of sunscreen options and ingredients available. Use products that contain at least SPF 30 and is a broad spectrum - meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays.  I use only organic products now; always wear a wide brim hat when outside for an extended period of time; and avoid the sun between 10am-2pm. Remember that a lifetime of sun exposure can cause age spots, wrinkles and increases your risk of skin cancer.
Now that you understand how your skin plays such an important role in protecting your body, you should take care of it and keep your skin as healthy as you can.