It’s the festive season and everyone wants to look their best whether it be hair, make up, shoes, dress or accessories you want everything to be perfect for all the social engagements to come. With so much to think about you may overlook tending to your skin.
Healthy, radiant skin is going to help you shine bright this holiday season. Unfortunately, some forms of celebrations can cause great harm to our health in general and more specifically to our skin.
Excessive unprotected sun exposure (or indoor tanning), tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and sleep duration and quality, all have short and long-term impact to our skins health.
Expert dermatological studies have shown that good skin condition can be maintained to some extent by modifying lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep pattern and sunscreen use.
The ageing process is often accelerated by:
Smoking is associated with premature skin ageing, delayed wound healing, increased infections, as well as many skin disorders, particularly psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa and cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Smokers tend to be more severely affected than non-smokers by many inflammatory skin diseases even acne and various conditions are often more difficult to treat effectively in smokers.
Also, tobacco smoking has other unpleasant effects:
- Temporary yellowing of fingers and fingernails
- Discoloured teeth
- Black, hairy tongue
Longer term, the gaunt skin of a 40 year old heavy smoker resembles that of a non-smoking 70 year old:
- Facial wrinkles and furrows (e.g. crows’ feet at lateral canthus, vertical ear crease, smoker’s lines around lips)
- Baggy eyelids and slack jawline
- Uneven skin colouring: greyish, yellow with prominent blood vessels (telangiectasia)
- Dry, coarse skin
Sleep and skin aging
A Swedish study showed that sleep deprivation affects facial cues in a negative way. Sleep deprived individuals were noted to have hanging eyelids, swollen eyes, darker circles and more droopy corners of the mouth. Poor sleep quality as ascertained by Pittsburgh sleep quality index, and sleep duration of less than 5 hours was shown to be associated with increased signs of intrinsic aging and decreased skin barrier function.
Excessive alcohol (ethanol) intake or alcohol abuse can result in many health problems and is implicated as a cause or aggravating factor for several skin conditions.
One of the earliest signs of alcohol abuse is a persistently red face due to enlarged blood vessels (telangiectasia). This appears because regulation of vascular control in the brain fails with sustained alcohol intake.
Transient flushing is also a common side effect of alcohol, particularly in heavy drinkers. It is due to acetaldehyde, the main breakdown product of alcohol. Acetaldehyde is thought to cause flushing by stimulating release of histamine.
Up to 40% of alcohol consumers experience flushing and elevated heart rate after drinking even minimal amounts of alcohol, due to accumulation of acetaldehyde.
Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) around the eyes, mouth and on the legs, may be associated with chronic liver disease.
- Generalised pruritus
Generalised skin itching (pruritus) may occur due to the build-up of poorly metabolised substances that stimulate nerve endings in the skin. These substances may include bile salts, histamine, corticosteroids and opioids.
- Nail changes
- Skin cancer
Along with increasing the risk of liver, pancreatic and breast cancer, alcohol increases the risk of skin cancer.
- Nutritional deficiency
Nutritional deficiency can develop when alcohol replaces normal food in the diet and the digestive tract and liver do not digest and process food the way they should resulting in malabsorption. With little calorie or protein intake the skin becomes dry and loses elasticity.
To maintain healthy skin, along with a balanced lifestyle, sticking to an anti aging regimen is also advised. Several anti-aging strategies have been developed over the years.
Antiaging creams are applied to the face, neck and hands long term. These may contain:
- Fruit acids
- Vitamin C
- Topical retinoids
- Growth factors
Fillers and Botox can be injected under the skin to disguise crows’ feet lines, smoker’s lines and some scars.
Resurfacing refers to surgical or laser procedures that take off the top layer of skin, smoothing it out.
- Skin needling
- Chemical peels
- Ablative laser resurfacing
- Non-ablative resurfacing: e.g., fractional laser treatment, intense pulsed light and radiothermoplasty
With thanks to Medcare Hospitals & Medical Centers. Call 800MEDCARE or visit www.medcare.ae