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How to Look After Your Skin

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 28 in the March 27, 2013 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

Patients are always surprised to hear that their skin is a living organ, and perhaps the largest one. Our skin is designed to protect us from the elements and microbial attack. It has three layers of which the outer one is the thinnest, and keeps a layer of dead cells on its surface for extra armour. It is called the epidermis and contains the melatonin cells which give it color. I find it a little ironic that we spend billions of dollars annually attempting to keep this layer looking great by applying all kinds of lotions, potions and creams that guarantee results. It is a little like washing your car in the hopes that the tires will last longer.

To understand the reason you simply need to understand the composition. Our epidermis receives its nourishment within the body. Any elements which are used to regenerate and repair the skin layer also come from inside the body. It would not function as a very good barrier if anything applied to the surface could slip through and rejuvenate it. We can make the surface look a little better by lasering off some of the dead or damaged cells, and there is good evidence that keeping the skin moisturized tends to make it look better.

Your skin is truly a reflection of what you eat. Consuming a good and balanced diet of various fats, minerals and vitamins is the key. If you drink lots of water, the skin will look better hydrated. The skin is also capable of manufacturing Vitamin D, the only vitamin that humans can actually manufacture. It basically uses the sun to transform cholesterol into Vitamin D, which has a multitude of uses around the body like building strong bones.

You might also be surprised to learn that skin is constantly reproducing itself. New layers are added on the inside of the body, while older skin is sloughed off. That microscopically shed skin accounts for a lot of dust around the house, and provides a hardy meal for dust mites. You shed about a million cells an hour. Do the math and you see why frequent vacuuming of mattresses and washing of bed sheets is not a bad idea.

There are hundreds of products on the market that promise in some way to reverse the aging process and promote a youthful appearance. There is little scientific proof for any of this, no matter how bizarre the source may sound. Their ability to moisturize is what makes them all the same, no matter whether you pay a king's sum for a small eloquent container or use a bargain day pump bottle. It is usually the fillers that are added to the water and fat emulsion that cause the rashes and reactions. Mild soap, water and a basic moisturizer is the best way to look after your skin.

Related resources:

How to Take Care of Your Skin 9 steps from wikiHow.com. Edited by Alan J, Ben Rubenstein, Imperatrix, Robin and 60 others.

Human skin from Wikipedia.

How to keep your skin looking great by Cheryl Freedman, medical journalist, NetDoctor UK.

Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin by Mayo Clinic staff.

How to Care for Skin. Video by Dr. Rosayln George, eHow Presenter.

Skin and Nutrition. Does nutrition make a difference in skin rejuvenation? What diet is best for your skin? Skin and blood sugar. Is there a connection? Vitamins, minerals and skin rejuvenation. Antioxidant nutrients and skin protection.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin from KidsHealth.
- Wash your face twice a day (no more) with warm water and a mild soap made for people with acne. Gently massage your face with circular motions.
- Remove your makeup before you go to sleep.
- Keep hair clean and out of your face to prevent additional dirt and oil from clogging your pores.
- Protect our skin from the sun's harmful rays ...

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