Tips for Healthy Skin

Your skin is much more than an outer surface for the world to see. It protects you from bacteria, dirt and other foreign objects and the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and contains the nerve endings that let you know if something is hot or cold, soft or hard, sharp or dull. Your skin also plays an important role in regulating your body's fluids and ­temperature.

Many people are concerned with not only their general health, but the health of their skin as well. Getting the best nutrition you can is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Indeed, though it is impossible to prevent the process of ageing skin, good nutrition can help maintain an attractive complexion.

Human skin requires nutrients to flourish. These can be obtained from a healthy diet and through multivitamin supplementation. There is no doubt that your wellbeing, including skin health, can be enhanced by eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish.

Tips for maintaining good skin care:

• Avoid soaps labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial." These tend to reduce the skin's acidity, which acts as a protection from infection.

• Keep the skin clean and dry. Wash with soap and water daily, then rinse and dry thoroughly.

• Skin folds or creases (as in the groin area and underarms) need washing more frequently - twice a day, morning and bedtime. Rashes can easily form in these areas because of increased moisture and warmth. Increasing the air circulation to these areas to help prevent rashes can be accomplished by positioning the arms and legs so the skin surfaces are separated. For example, use the "frog" position to air the groin area. Air these areas two times a day.

• Rashes can be caused by tapes, soaps, fabrics or other irritants. Total body rashes may result from food or drug allergies. Consult your health care provider for treatment of these and any other rashes you may have.

• Avoid using items that may dry the skin - for example, harsh soaps or alcohol based products such as lotions. (A good non-drying lotion to use is Alpha Keri.)

• Lubricate dry skin with moisturizing creams or ointments (such as Eucerin or Aquaphor). Use care in applying creams over bony areas, since they may soften the skin and promote skin breakdown.

• Soiled skin can break down easily. Urine and stool have irritants in them and should be cleaned up immediately to prevent weakening and breakdown of the skin surface.

• Avoid using talc powders, as they may support yeast growth. They can also "cake up" and keep moisture in, causing skin breakdown.

• Calluses may form on your feet and hands. These can be removed by soaking frequently in warm water and toweling briskly to remove dead skin. You can use moisturizing creams to help soften calluses. Note that calluses may indicate an area of excess friction or pressure.
Finger and toe nails require special care. Soak them and rub gently with a towel to remove dead skin and decrease the chance of hangnails forming. Nails are easier to cut after soaking; be sure to cut them straight across to avoid ingrown nails, and keep them short for safety. If ingrown nails develop, see your primary care provider or podiatrist.