Skin is your body’s largest organ and an important indicator of what might be happening inside the body and even the mind. From rashes and wrinkles to pimples and peeling, Dr. Adel shares a few habits that can harm your health, how your skin shows you it’s not happy, and what you can do about it.
Overdoing it on the alcohol
Drinking alcohol can have wide-ranging effects on the appearance of your skin and overall health. The dehydrating effects can cause both pimples and wrinkles. Rosacea and a flushed appearance can also be triggered due to the increase of blood flow caused by alcohol. If consumed in excess, over long periods of time, it can also lead to chronic liver disease and jaundice, identified by itching, yellowing skin, and eyes.
Tips: Avoid alcohol altogether or stay below the recommended daily intake. If you must indulge, have a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated.
Speaking of hydration, a wise woman once said, “If you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated.” An adult body is about 60% water, and a baby is about 75% water. Water can prevent your skin from getting dry, tight and flaky. If you pinch the skin on the back of your hand, it should spring back immediately, if not, it’s a sign you need more water. Furthermore, not drinking enough water can lead to conditions such as kidney stones, heat stroke, and UTIs.
- Drink at least two liters of water a day. Drinking more will vary depending on whether you live in a hotter climate and how active you are in sports. But don’t go overboard.
- Urine gets darker when you’re not getting enough fluids. Rehydrate until it becomes clearer or ‘normal straw color’.
- Suck on ice cubes if you can’t drink water after an episode of vomiting and nausea.
- If you forget to stay hydrated, there are apps for that! Waterlogged and iHydrate can help.
- Check the following for signs of dehydration in babies and young children: no wet nappy for three to six hours, listlessness and crying without tears.
Using strong detergents
However, if you notice an itchy rash or blisters on your hands, a detergent may be causing a common condition called contact dermatitis. Healthcare practitioners are particularly prone to this one, given they are frequently washing their hands with harsh chemicals.
- Wash your hands with a gentle soap substitute that also moisturizes.
- Do a patch test with a doctor if you are worried about how your skin will react to new skincare products or fragrances.
- If your hands aren’t soiled, use an anti-bacterial hand gel for sensitive skin.
Loading up on sugar
Maintaining a healthy diet without too much sugar can help prevent skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and cellulite. Consuming too much can also impact your blood sugar levels, which can eventually lead to conditions such as diabetes type II, and if you become overweight, hypertension.
Tips: Avoid sugary snacks and indulge in sweet fruits like berries instead. If you love adding sugar to your food or drinks, talk to your doctor about using low GI sweeteners.
Contact with direct heat
A hot bath or shower on a cold day can be very satisfying, especially during winter months. But when the temperature is too high, it can cause rashes and burns. For the elderly in particular, doctors often see a mild transient red rash during the winter, known as ‘hot water bottle rash’. Burns can range from mild to life-threatening and should be assessed by a doctor for severity and treatment.
Tips: Wrap a hot water bottle with a towel to reduce the contact between heat and the skin. If you do get a minor burn, run your skin under lukewarm, running water.
Sometimes it’s a catch 22: sustained emotional stress can trigger skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis in both adults and children, which in turn adds to the stress and the severity of the condition. Long-term stress and anxiety can also increase your likeliness of other conditions, but it can be effectively managed.
- Read about stress-related conditions such as burnout, acute stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder to check if you could be experiencing this.
- Make an appointment with your doctor or mental health practitioner to check if your skin symptoms could be stress-related.
Prolonged sun exposure
Pink skin accompanied by a burning sensation after too much exposure might indicate a sunburn. If this was a bad burn it may peel, then eventually tan and freckle. Cumulative sun exposure beyond what your doctor recommends can lead to different types of skin cancer — the least common but most dangerous form is malignant melanoma. However, some UV radiation is also an important part of staying healthy and the main source of Vitamin D, which can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Check your moles for irregular shapes regularly for any signs of skin cancer.
- Talk to your doctor about how much exposure to UV radiation is safe for you.
- Limit your exposure to the sun by covering your skin with UV-protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, a broad-brimmed hat, and stick to the shade.
Keeping the inside of your body healthy by eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, informing yourself about common conditions and maintaining regular checkups is the best way to help your skin and appearance. To your health!
The personal opinions of our writers are their own. All interviewees are trained medical experts but all information should be regarded as helpful suggestions and not a formal medical diagnosis or advice.