Skin Care information
If you have sensitive skin, it may be prone to itching, redness, dryness, or breakouts when using products that are too harsh. For that reason, the most important way to care for your skin is to choose products designed for your skin type. If your skin is extremely sensitive, or seems to be having frequent allergic reactions, you may need to visit a dermatologist for an allergy test to determine exactly what is causing the problems. This isn't required for most people, however.
To care for sensitive skin on the face, it is important to wash it twice a day. Choose a cleanser that is soap-free and mild, without additions like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which can be irritating and drying. Some cleansers are designed to calm skin, and may include ingredients such as feverfew or chamomile. Avoid cleansers that contain fragrance, and try to choose a product with as few ingredients as possible. Liquid cleansers are generally a good choice.
Next, it is important to moisturize the skin. Again, many moisturizers are specifically designed for skin that is sensitive and are marked as such. In general, it is a good idea to choose a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, fragrance free, and hypoallergenic. Avoid oil-based products. You may want to test a moisturizer in a small area before spreading it all over your face and causing a potential reaction. Apply a small amount every day for a few days either on the jawline or behind the ear, and wait to see if any adverse reaction occurs.
The same rules apply for makeup: it should be oil free and non-comedogenic, as well as fragrance free. Experts recommend using powder foundation instead of liquid, and choosing pencil eyeliner instead of liquid. It may be necessary to test makeup as well. In general, it is best to avoid using waterproof makeup that needs to be removed with makeup remover, because the makeup remover can irritate the skin.
Many moisturizers contain sunscreen, but if yours doesn't, it is important to apply one every day. It may be best to choose one that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, because these sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun, rather than soaking in. Though it may take some trial and error to find products to successfully care for sensitive skin, it will be worth it when your skin is soft, smooth, and even-toned.
How do I Treat Dry Skin?
Dry skin can be a symptom of a number of different conditions. Therefore, the same treatment methods won’t always apply. There are some good general guidelines to take care of skin dryness. Yet people should always see a doctor if these things don’t work and dryness persists.
Some people experience dry skin on a seasonal basis, especially in winter, and others seem to have it year round. It might be accompanied by itching or rash. Some of the key causes of this condition include fairly constant exposure to low humidity environments, especially those who use central air or heating, take frequent long hot showers and baths, age (dryness increases as people age), sun damage, and exposure to chemicals in soaps and detergents. There are medical causes of skin dryness too, and chief among these is hypothyroidism.
The first thing to do to address dry skin would be to try to eliminate some of its causes. People who use central air conditioning or heating can help add moisture to the air with use of a humidifier or vaporizer. Bathing and showering should be done in warm water and should not exceed 10-15 minutes a day. There are now many wonderful alternative laundry soaps and skin soaps that have few ingredients and don’t contain tons of chemicals, dyes or perfumes. Making these small switches may help the problem.
Some additional suggestions for dealing with dry skin include using a simple moisturizer. Again, this shouldn’t be one laden with lots of extra chemicals, and some people use things as simple as olive oil. There is some controversy on the recommendation of using moisturizers with mineral oil, since many feel this may deprive the skin of nutrients. People can shop around for a variety of moisturizers that don’t contain this and can still provide plenty of moisture.
Another product that may prove helpful is an exfoliant. This helps to remove dead skin, which is often very dry, and reveal new skin. Moisturizing should always follow exfoliation.
When dry skin presents with itching, doctors have different recommendations on how to treat this. It really does depend on cause, but dry inflamed skin might be treated with over the counter hydrocortisone. This should reduce inflammation, and if it doesn’t, it’s quite important to see a physician. It’s possible a stronger hydrocortisone solution is needed, or that the treatment is not adequate for the cause.
Clearly, conditions like hypothyroidism aren’t going to clear up on their own. Even when people are doing all they can to care for their skin, it may remain dry. Doctors can determine if thyroid levels are low with a simple blood test. The condition is usually easily treated with thyroid hormone supplementation, and may improve look and feel of skin. When this condition is not present, doctors can look for other medical causes of dry skin.
Bacterial Skin Infections
The range of bacterial skin infections is wide, from simple boils to a widespread and life-threatening bacterial infection that involves deeper layers of skin and has the potential to cause blood poisoning. In healthy individuals, treatment of an infection with appropriate antibiotics is generally successful. Problems can arise when a person's immune system is compromised in some way, by illnesses such as cancer or AIDS. Infection of a pre-existing wound may also be more difficult to treat, as many cases where the bacteria involved are resistant to antibiotics. The study of diseases affecting the skin is known as dermatology.
Bacterial skin infections are common, even though the skin forms such an effective barrier that people may constantly come into contact with bacteria without skin problems occurring. Any break in the skin makes it more likely for bacterial disease to establish itself, so it is important to keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered. Infectious skin diseases are also more prevalent in those people with suppressed immune systems or with conditions such as diabetes, where circulation is impaired.
The most common types of bacteria involved in bacterial skin infections are known as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Staphylococcal infection typically causes an abscess or boil, sometimes referred to as a furuncle. This is an uncomfortable and possibly painful red lump associated with a hair follicle. Furuncles may cluster together to form what are called carbuncles. Treatment involves hot compresses to draw out the infection and antibiotics, if necessary.
Cellulitis is a painful infection of the deeper layers of the skin, which appears as an area of redness, warmth and swelling that gradually spreads. It often occurs near a break in the skin, and the patient may be feverish. Antibiotics and pain relief are used to treat the condition and most people recover completely. A similar illness known as erysipelas, or St. Anthony's fire, affects more superficial layers of the skin, most often on the legs or face. The infected area appears extremely red with a definite, raised border and is usually treated in a similar way to cellulitis.
Impetigo is one of the bacterial skin infections which may affect healthy skin and is most commonly seen in young children. A rash usually appears several days after infection, with small blisters which burst to leave crusty, golden patches on the skin. The face is the area most frequently affected. Antibiotic cream is used to treat the condition, after gently washing away any crusts with soap and water. As impetigo is contagious, children should not go to school until antibiotic treatment has been carried out for a couple of days and there is no more evidence of blisters or crusting.