Skin care products that claim to reduce wrinkles or lighten age spots are turning up almost daily on the web and in stores. Billions of dollars are spent each year on these creams, ointments, and lotions. As usual we’re going to go against the flow and report the facts.
What damages our skin?
- The number 1 cause of skin damage is the sun or more precisely the ultraviolet rays from the sun.
- Smoking is another cause of skin damage. The reasons for this have not been proven but the facts are very clear. Smokers have more wrinkles and the more you smoke combined with how long you’ve smoked increases the damage to your skin.
- The last major cause of skin damage and the one nobody can control is aging. As we age our skin looses fat and sweat glands. The fat makes are skin thicker and healthier looking. While the sweat glands help keep are skin moisturized.
Can we repair the damage to our skin?
Skin care is an important issue and there are many opinions to this question. We’re going to give you the best answer we can based on the facts available.
Our skin does have the ability to repair itself to a certain point. Avoid the sun between 10:00am and 3:00pm if at all possible. If you must go in the sun at any time be sure to wear a sunscreen. A sunscreen with moisturizers is best. Quit smoking now to stop further damage to your skin.
The FDA has no evidence that any over the counter cream, ointment, lotion or pill can reverse the damage already done to your skin. However, moisturizers can soothe dry skin. Ointments give the longest relief, followed by creams than lotions.
Legit Skin Care Treatments
Now for the good news! There are some treatments available that the FDA does agree will help with your skin care. The best available treatment at the present time is laser surgery. A doctor uses a laser to remove one layer of skin at a time. With proper post-op care the skin that replaces the old skin will be more elastic and can make your skin look 10 to 20 years younger. This procedure usually lasts for 8-10 years. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the only other treatment recognized to improve your skin and reduce minor wrinkles. Talk to your Dermatologist about these two choices to see if either is right for you.
Tretinoin cream (Renova) is a vitamin A derivative that is approved for reducing small wrinkles, age spots, and rough skin. Although vitamin A is the primary source for this skin care product it is important to note that the very high concentration makes this cream only available by prescription. This product does not remove wrinkles, repair damaged skin, or make your skin younger.
What might the next FDA approved skin care treatment be?
At the present time studies are underway to determine the effectiveness of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). Some studies have shown they reduce wrinkles, age spots, and other sun damage to your skin. The draw back right now is long term effects of their use. If you choose to use this form of treatment please keep in mind that exposure to the sun can be very damaging.
There are 3 forms of skin cancer; Basal cell carcinomas, Squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma. All skin cancer can be cured if brought to your doctor’s attention before it has a chance to spread. Check your skin often for any signs of change and report any changes to your doctor. Skin cancer very seldom causes pain so don’t wait for it to hurt before you tell your doctor. It is estimated that 40-50% of Americans over age 65 have had skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinomas is the most common, accounting for 90% of skin cancer reported in the U.S. This cancer is slow growing and rarely spreads to other parts of your body.
Squamous cell carcinomas does not spread very often but it can spread.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and it can spread to other parts of your body and your organs. Once melanoma spreads to your organs it can be fatal.
Check your skin often and report any changes to your doctor.
Proper skin care is more than just looking young. As we age we are more likely to bruise. The reason is that the loss of fat in our skin caused by the sun leaves our blood vessels more exposed to damage.
Bruising on areas of your body that are normally covered by clothes could be caused by medications or illness. Report these to your doctor.
Skin Care Conclusion
From plastic surgery to moisturizers there are plenty of ways to keep your skin beautiful and healthy. Over the counter products to make your skin look young have not been proven to be of any great value. A healthy diet and a multivitamin combined with sun protection and not smoking is your best choice for day to day skin care. To repair damaged skin your money would be better spent seeing a dermatologist than buying expensive products that probably have little or no benefit to your skin.
Resources for this article:
National Cancer Institute
Food and Drug Administration
American Acadeour of Dermatology