The health of your skin is impacted by a wide variety of factors and can have mild or dramatic effects on your daily life. By looking at individual genetics, family history, lifestyle decisions, environmental factors, and overall wellness, scientists can better understand how each of these factors impacts skin health.
As the body’s largest organ, your skin helps regulate temperature, retain fluids, and keep harmful bacteria out. In addition to the effects of aging and our own genetics, our skin is constantly battling ultraviolet radiation and pollution; undergoing cuts, abrasions, and burns; fighting off infections and inflammatory reactions; and a host of other elements.
In fact, there are more than 3,000 skin conditions known to the field of dermatology that span from life-threatening diseases such as melanoma to benign conditions like skin tags.
What can you do to keep your skin healthy?
Pay Attention to Your Body
Are they freckles or moles? How prone are you to sunburn? Does your skin react to certain allergens?
Knowing your skin can give you the best chance to take care of it. Recognizing new growths, moles, discoloration, or textures can be the first sign of a dermatological issue or a serious ailment.
For example, a symptom of diabetes is a skin condition called necrobiosis lipodica, which manifests as a shiny porcelain-like appearance that may become itchy and painful. Signs of hepatitis, liver disease and gallstones can make the skin turn a yellow hue.
Know Your Family History
Do you have family members with a history of skin cancer or psoriasis? While it’s important to keep track of major family medical details, knowing ancestry and other family history can help you prepare and advocate for certain tests and screenings for yourself. Sharing this information with your clinician can help you get access and insurance coverage for tests you may not otherwise be offered.
Consider Lifestyle and Environmental Factors
Drinking water consistently is good for your skin by keeping it hydrated. Using sunscreen protects the skin from damaging UV rays. Bad habits that can also affect your skin include poor sleep, poor diet, and smoking. Smoking can damage collagen and elastin, the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity.
Do you live in a location that has high pollution or where it has a high amount of sunlight? Cold weather can cause the blood vessels to narrow causing skin discoloration, as well as reduced sebaceous gland secretion causing dry skin.
Your skin is incredibly delicate while also being strong and resilient. Determining all the different factors that go into making it the first line of defense while also one of the beautiful unique parts about us is what makes it special.
Understanding more about the genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors and overall health can help scientists determine their impact on skin health, progress research into skin conditions, and develop management and treatment of those conditions.
To advance the science of skin, join the skin health study.
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