5 essential skin tips

We often take our largest and most valuable organ for granted. Here are some tips on taking care of your skin:

Dealing with zits
Zits have a way of popping up when you least expect them. Here's how to deal with them.

Take action:
Keep your skin clean. Gently wash your skin with a mild cleanser, once in the morning and once in the evening and after heavy exercise. Try an astringent lotion, de-greasing pads, or a face scrub. Don't squeeze, scratch or poke at pimples. They can get infected and leave scars. Wash your hair at least twice a week, and keep it off your face. Use only water-based makeup. Don't use greasy or oily creams or lotions. Avoid the sun and sunburn. Get help. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dermatologist.

Anti-ageing tips
As you age, the collagen in the dermis of your skin gradually loses water, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and flexibility. Here's how to keep your skin looking young.

Take action:
The best way to slow down the ageing process is to avoid the sun – from an early age. You can slow this process a little by having regular facial massages and facials, which will help increase blood circulation in the skin. Firming masks, mild exfoliation and hydrating treatments will help rejuvenate the skin. Harness the rejuvenating power of products that contain essential ingredients such as retinoids, anti-oxidants and alpha hydroxy acids. Maintain a regimen of cleansing and moisturising. If you wear makeup, make sure you clean your skin thoroughly.

Preventing and treating fungal infections
Fungal infestations occur as infections of the skin and nails. They are caused by fungi that are everywhere around us. Here's how to prevent and treat fungal infections.

Take action:
Fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions. Keep the nails clean and dry. Dry feet well after a bath or shower, especially between the toes. Change socks at least daily, or more often if your feet perspire excessively. Don't over-trim nails, or pick at and poke around the toenails; prevent minor injury, which might provide an entry point for fungi. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes for two days in a row. Give a pair of shoes time to dry out. Medications such as are itraconazole, terbinafine and fluconazole are available to treat infections. Treatment should last 6 - 12 weeks. An anti-fungal cream may be prescribed to confine the infection.

Dealing with dry skin
The skin's oil glands produce natural oil, which protects the skin against water loss. Dry skin (xerosis) can be the result when the oil is depleted. Here’s how to get your skin looking good.

Take action:
Don't bath or shower more than once a day. Cleanse your face only once a day. Don't use harsh soaps. Mild moisture bars are best. Avoid highly alkaline products, or products that contain alcohol. Use warm (not hot) water. Pat-dry your skin instead of rubbing it. Apply a bath oil or moisturiser on damp skin. Thick, greasy moisturisers are most effective. Use a humidifier if the air is dry. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 to retain moisture.

Treating sunburn
Staying too long in the sun can leave you charred. Here's how to treat sunburn sunburn.

Take action:
Cool the affected area with cool water, damp cloths or take a cool bath or shower. Apply a soothing lotion such as calamine lotion to affected areas. Take paracetamol for headache, pain or fever. Don't cover affected areas with clothing if indoors. Avoid the sun for the next 48 hours. To prevent sunburn, stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm. When exposed to the sun, always use a sunblock with a sun protection factor of 15 or more.

(Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, February 2007)

Have a question? Ask Health24's Anti-ageing expert

Read more:
Health24's Skin Centre

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