Our skin is strong enough to protect us from various environmental influences, but delicate enough to suffer from different types of damage. When it comes to skin damage, it can be caused by a wide array of factors. In order to improve skin quality and have a healthy skin, it’s important to know what causes this damage and how to combat the problem. This article will list 10 most frequent causes of skin damage and show you how to deal with them.
1. Sun Exposure
According to Faramarz Samie, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at Jefferson University in Philadelphia sun is by fact the biggest cause of skin damage. Sun’s UV rays break down collagen production and elastin fibers which are responsible for keeping your skin smooth, plump and youthful.
Furthermore, the UV rays affect melanocytes, cells that produce melanin (pigment that gives your skin its natural color) and causes changes in pigmentation. For example, sun exposure can cause formation of patches that are slightly darker than the rest of your skin. It’s needless to mention that the most severe type of skin damage that occurs due to sun exposure is skin cancer.
To avoid skin damage caused by sun exposure, here are some tips that you can find beneficial:
- Avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm when UV rays are the strongest
- Apply sunscreen regularly throughout the year
- Use products with SPF, for example Dermaxsol moisturizing sunscreen offers all benefits of moisturizer and sunscreen in one product
- Wear hats and sunglasses.
Everything you eat plays a role in skin quality as well. Some foods you eat can significantly contribute to skin damage which is why it’s important to avoid them in order to have healthy and smooth skin.
For example, salt and processed foods can make a big impact on your skin. Processed foods contain high levels of preservatives and salt which make your skin dull and remove all moisture from it.
Below, you can see examples of foods that aren’t good for your skin:
- Rice cakes
- Chips, French fries etc.
- Sugary fruit drinks and smoothies
- Fast food
How to fix this problem? It’s not that difficult. First, you have to make sure you eat regularly and avoid skipping meals (it’s not good for your health, skin and it makes you gain weight). Instead of processed and unhealthy foods, opt for healthier alternatives. For example, if you like juices, instead of store-bought juices and smoothies that are abundant in added sugars, you can decide to make your own. Also, you can include skin-healthy foods into your diet. Here are some examples:
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate (with 70% cocoa)
- Fish and seafood
- Green tea
- Green leafy vegetables
- Yellow bell peppers
- Eggs and grass-fed beef
Makeup can contribute to skin damage in two ways:
- Applying excessive amounts of makeup
- Not removing makeup before bedtime.
Both factors mentioned above can lead to bacterial infections and clogging your pores which can cause acne breakouts. Also, makeup residue left on your pillow can have a negative impact on your skin as well.
Avoiding skin damage caused by makeup is very easy:
- Apply makeup products in moderation – too much makeup can make you look unnatural. Apply makeup in moderate amounts, to hide imperfects, emphasize your natural beauty and that’s it
- Always remove makeup before bedtime
- Change sheets and pillowcases on weekly basis.
This bad habit can endanger your overall health and it also affects your skin. For example, smokers usually have unhealthy skin that isn’t able to heal as fast as skin of non-smokers. Furthermore, smoking narrows down your blood vessels which prevents your skin from getting healthy nutrients it needs.
When you smoke, your skin is deprived from oxygen and healthy nutrients which is why it’s unhealthy, explains J. Greg Brady, DO, a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon at Advanced Dermatology Associates in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Additionally, smoking causes elastic fibers in your skin to thicken which means your skin isn’t able to snap back into shape over time and you will notice it started to sag.
To combat this problem, there’s only one solution – you have to quit smoking. You can contact your doctor who can provide useful advice.
Do you like to drink too much? Here’s one reason why you should limit intake of your favorite alcoholic beverage – it’s not good for your skin. Alcohol is hepatotoxin which means alcohol is particularly damaging for your liver. You’re probably wondering how that is related to your skin. Dr. David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group explains that hepatotoxin is a toxin to the cells that are responsible for detoxifying your body.
Weak liver is also indicated by changes in skin’s appearance. It becomes sallow, pasty with large pores. Furthermore, some drinks and cocktails contain high levels of sugar which is never good for your skin as well.
Alcohol causes skin damage in other ways as well. For example, it dehydrates the skin thus making it prone to irritations, flaky and dull appearance.
You can help prevent skin damage by limiting alcohol intake, avoiding nightcaps.
6. Smiles and Frowns
Our skin loses elasticity as we age. When you’re younger, each time you smile, frown, or squint, your skin would spring back easily. However, as you age, elastin fibers weaken and your skin loses its ability to return to the “original shape” every time you make some facial movement. In turn, we get wrinkles on forehead due to frowning, wrinkles around mouth due to smiling, and wrinkles around eyes due to squinting.
Does this mean you should remain motionless and look like your face has been frozen in time? No, of course it doesn’t. To reduce signs of skin aging that appear due to facial movements you can massage your face regularly and apply moisturizer.
Moisturizer you choose should be rich in healthy nutrients that can boost collagen production and improve elasticity. Also, you can opt for rich night creams to allow your skin to recover while you’re sleeping. Suvoderm nighttime treatment improves production of collagen and smoothes away signs of aging and skin damage.
7. Free Radicals
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules with a single electron and they cause skin damage by attacking healthy cells. Free radicals are primarily produced by the sun’s UV rays, but they can develop due to other factors as well. For example:
- Toxins from personal care products
- Pesticides in foods
- Viruses etc.
In order to protect your skin from free radicals, you should:
- Wear sunscreen
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
- Use products made of natural ingredients
- Use products made by reputable brands
- Make sure products contain Vitamins C and E which are excellent antioxidants
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables or wash them thoroughly when you come home.
Chemicals found in cleaning products and laundry detergents can cause skin irritations and allergies. These chemicals may potentially cause contact dermatitis. People with sensitive skin are more prone to irritations and allergic reactions associated with chemicals from various cleaning products.
The best way to protect your skin from this type of damage is by handling cleaning products with gloves. Also, regular moisturizing also plays a big role so make sure you don’t neglect your moisturizers and lotions.
Being overweight or obese can put you at a greater risk of suffering from a wide range of diseases including diabetes, heart attack, stroke etc. But, excess weight has negative impact on your skin as well. Below, you can see effects of obesity on your skin:
- Increases water loss which leads to dry skin and rough texture
- In some cases, skin can produce excess sebum and cause acne
- Being obese puts you in a greater risk of getting psoriasis, stretch marks, cellulite, skin infections, acanthosis nigricans (dark and velvety patches on the skin) etc.
To improve the quality of your skin and avoid health risks, you should consider losing weight. To lose weight all you have to do is to make some lifestyle adjustments, become physically active and eat healthy foods coupled with strong willpower.
10. Stress and Lack of Sleep
Stress causes a chemical response in your body which makes your skin more reactive and sensitive. Furthermore, it can also make other skin problems more difficult to heal. Lack of sleep can cause dark circles under your eyes, puffy bags, and dull complexion all of which prove that beauty sleep isn’t just a myth.
How to combat with effects of stress and sleep deprivation? Here are some tips:
- Establish a regular sleeping pattern by going to bed and waking up every day at the same time
- Take power naps
- Exercise regularly (it’s helpful for stress and lack of sleep)
- Practice stress management techniques
- Practice yoga
- Drink a chamomile tea before bed.
Skin can get damaged due to a number of different factors. Luckily, it’s possible to tackle each factor individually and restore the healthy glow and youthful look. Throughout this article, you had the opportunity to see that sun isn’t the only cause of skin damage, but your lifestyle choices play a big role as well. It’s never too late to start living a healthy and happy life.