• Ewa Doszczak





Clean skin obsession is not surprising for anyone today. Whenever you turn off the TV or browse the Internet, you see ads promoting e.g. bleaches and cleaning supplies or hand sanitizers that remove 99.9% of bacteria and viruses to help you ‘protect you and your family. During the pandemic, it has become even more serious. And yes, sure, we all want to protect our families. We hear all these slogans and information about cleanliness and disinfection and suddenly we also transmit them to our hygiene, skincare in this case.

We start to believe that ‘the cleaner your skin, the healthier you are, but frankly, it’s nonsense. We regularly use antibacterial soaps, alcohol-based tonics, washcloths, sponges, cloths, and body or face brushes – all because we want the skin to be perfectly clean and shiny. And unfortunately, such an intense cleaning is a huge mistake.

If you do it once but deeply, it’s okay, but washing and polishing your skin excessively regularly might end really badly. Not only will it strip the skin of its natural, protective layer but also strip it from the good bacteria that helps the skin keep healthy.


Modern face cleansers


The latest trend to use numerous face cleaning accessories to achieve perfectly clean skin is nothing but overwhelming. They might make you think ‘My skin has never been so clean before!’. But beware, when you treat your skin like that, using a facial scrubbing brush will for sure make your skin feel clean like never before. It is washed of make-up, some everyday dirt like air pollution, fumes, dirt from your hands, etc. but it is also washed of its natural protective microbiome.





Why?


When you wash your skin with 'aggressive' cosmetics regularly, and sometimes don't even rinse them off thoroughly, you negatively affect the physiological functions of the skin layer. Irritation, redness, eczema occur (when the skin with eczema is heavily scrubbed, the bacteria spreads all over your face, and new eczema and acne form). Blood vessels start to work harder, the skin gets overreactive and erythema might appear. You can also experience a permanent inflammation of the skin or suffer from allergies you have never suffered before. Your skin immune system gets quite disturbed and the skin is not able to fight against outside aggressors. When the protective skin layer is 'washed off', pathogens, viruses, and bacteria are more likely to attack your skin. And this is where some serious skin problems start.


Summary


The skin should live in full symbiosis with natural bacteria. The microbiome (our good bacteria, fungi, and viruses) of each of us is unique and we can’t decide on what it likes. We need the microbiome to stay healthy, to enjoy youthful and strong skin. It makes our skin more resistant to numerous skin diseases. One of the best ways to take control of your skin for good is establishing an appropriate skincare plan. The plan will respect, nourish and support the microscopic friends the skin has. Your skin’s health and well-being are much more important than using too many accessories that slowly destroy the protective layer of your skin.


To find out what is the microbiome, what kind of work it does, and how important it is - we will have to look at it closer soon :)

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The stress you face every day – at work, during daily activities, everyday pressure, and rush – strongly affects your skin in a very negative way. One of the most harmful enemies our skin could imagine is oxidative stress.



Free radicals


Such stress is caused by free radicals (ROS). During some physiological conditions, they are formed as by-products of various metabolic processes that consume oxygen. However, free radicals are not always harmful. They play an important role in some biological processes in our bodies. Our cells need them to work properly. For example, the fight against pathogens.


Free radicals become harmful when there are way too many of them in the body. The excessive production of ROS may be the result of UV radiation, smoking cigarettes, inflammation that lasts too long, etc. In such cases, free radicals can cause damage to the skin cells because of peroxidation (the situation when oxidation processes are dysfunctional). Thus, oxidative stress occurs.


Oxidative stress is continuous exposure to the harmful effects of free radicals. The more of them are present, the more oxidative stress is generated. It also depends on skin defense mechanisms and the number of antioxidants in the body. Once oxidative stress occurs, it is really hard to stop it – the domino effect begins. One oxygen molecule takes an electron from the second molecule, the second one – from the third one, etc. Free radicals, when unpaired with one electron, always look for a chance to take an electron away from other paired atoms. This may result in tissue pathology, various diseases, or accelerated aging processes. Each type of stress (psychical, physical, chemical) usually results in oxidative imbalances.


What happens to the skin then?



As the skin metabolism is high and the total surface of the skin (located between external and internal parts of our bodies) is quite big, the skin is constantly producing ROS. What happens to the skin then? It ages much faster, Moreover, collagen and elastin, the most important proteins in our bodies, are damaged. Melanocytes don’t work properly, which is the result of invalid protection against UV radiation. The skin’s immune system is weakened, and the skin is more sensitive to numerous external factors. What is sad, you can see the negative effects of oxidative stress almost immediately. The skin becomes a bit dull; it loses its smoothness, elasticity, and firmness. The skin cells die much faster so the skin regeneration is much slower.


How to deal with oxidative stress?


First of all, try to avoid the factors that cause the overproduction of free radicals. Okay, it's not easy, we all know that. However, giving up smoking is a good first step. Same as giving up alcohol, saying no to exposure to sunlight, and saying yes to a healthy diet. By healthy diet, I mean e.g. eating much more vegetables and fruit. Among the most popular antioxidants, you will find vitamins A, E, and C, carotenoids, coenzyme Q, flavonoids, linoleic acid, etc. Also, staying fit and active is helpful if you want to keep free radicals at a low level. Avoiding stress might sound like a really difficult task, so just try to keep a healthy balance – get enough sleep, meditate, pay attention to what you eat.




The proper skincare and little habits you can implement in your everyday life may help you reduce or even eliminate oxidative stress. So, are you ready to go? I keep my fingers crossed!


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Summer is approaching fast, longed for after the winter months. When we see the sun we start to behave as if we got an extra boost of energy, we smile more often, we spend more time outdoors.



There is no doubt that the sun has a beneficial effect on our body. The radiation emitted by the sun stimulates the production of Vitamin D and helps to maintain adequate levels in the body (although additional Vitamin D supplementation is recommended throughout the year). Generally speaking, the sun has a beneficial effect on the human psyche.


The warmth we feel outside invites us to expose ourselves to the sun, to "bathe in it" sometimes without restraint. But we should not forget the negative effects of being in the sun.


There is no doubt that prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause skin disorders. Besides the positive effects I mentioned above, it is difficult to point out other health benefits that are associated with the sun.


Who is most at risk for sun-related disorders?


People who work outdoors, sunbathers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts who don't pay attention to the use of sunscreen or who consciously avoid it.

What is Fitzpatrick’s skin type classification?


Do you know what Fitzpatrick's skin type classification is? You may have heard of it. It was developed based on sensitivity to sunlight. By the amount of melanin in the skin and the type of melanin in the skin, we can distinguish several skin types.


There are two types of melanin in the human skin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. What is the difference between them?


Eumelanin is responsible for the brownish shade of the skin and its amount is higher in people with darker complexions. Eumelanin provides excellent protection from the sun by travelling to the top part of the cell and protecting the cell nucleus which contains the DNA. Melanin, the pigment of the skin, protects the cell's DNA from attack by free radicals created by UV radiation, thus preventing DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer.


On the other hand, in fair-skinned redheads, the main type of melanin is pheomelanin (a more reddish substance than the brown eumelanin). High content of pheomelanin is responsible for the pink/orange skin tone and red hair of people with very light skin.


Unfortunately, pheomelanin does not protect DNA from damage caused by sunlight. This means that these people are at greater risk of skin cancer, wrinkles and freckles.


Six types of skin according to Fitzpatrick’s skin type classification



In Fitzpatrick's classification, there are 6 types of skin:

  • Type I - always easily sunburned, never tans and very sensitive to the sun (red hair, freckles, fair complexion)

  • Type II - always burns easily, tans only minimally, very sensitive to the sun (fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair, Caucasian)

  • Type III - burns occasionally, tans gradually to light brown, skin sensitive to the sun (mixed skin colour)

  • Type IV - tends to be minimally sunburned, always tends to tan to a medium brown, minimal sensitivity to the sun (European descent)

  • Type V - rarely burns, tans easily, skin not sensitive to the sun (Middle Easterners, Hispanics, some Blacks)

  • Type VI - never burns, lots of pigment, skin not sensitive to the sun (Black people)


Thanks to Fitzpatrick's classification, you can see which type you are and what measures you can take to protect your health. A higher skin type number indicates easier tanning and better preparation of the skin to minimize sun damage.


What happens to the skin when it is exposed to the sun for a long time? If the skin is exposed to the sun long enough for sun damage to occur, it can lead to the development of diseases (more or less serious). UV light causes both acute and chronic skin changes.

How can your skin react to being exposed to the sun?


Sunburn


The most common acute lesion is sunburn. It is easy to recognize. First, there is the erythema (or redness), sometimes accompanied by swelling, blisters and pain. The severity of the sunburn is proportional to the amount (dose) of solar radiation that was absorbed by the skin.


It occurs most often on the face since it receives most of the sun's radiation (e.g. on the hands, redness only appears when you receive four times the dose of radiation as on the head). However, a burn can occur on any part of the body, depending on what is most exposed to the sun.


A burn is an acute inflammatory reaction in the skin. It is difficult to say exactly how long it takes for a sunburn to occur, as it depends on the type of skin. Many fair-skinned people get sunburn after only 15 to 30 minutes of sunbathing, while darker-skinned people can get sunburn after an hour or two.


However, it occurs shortly after sun exposure and is accompanied by the usual signs. You can relieve the pain by applying cold compresses of skimmed milk, applying creams with soothing properties, which are available in pharmacies, sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce inflammation (you can always ask for advice at a pharmacy, don't decide on the drugs yourself).


The most important thing to remember is that sunburn causes permanent damage to the skin that can take up to 20 years to appear. Therefore, it should be avoided at all costs.


Sun allergies


Another condition caused by the sun is sun allergies (PMLE - polymorphous light eruption).


These are patches that appear on skin exposed to UV light and take many different shapes. The rash can take the form of nodules, blisters or itchy urticaria. It usually appears in the first weeks of summer on exposed parts of the body. A rash means your skin is unable to adequately protect itself from the sun, and if you're experiencing this condition, you should avoid the sun as much as possible.


Phototoxic reactions, certain medications, and skin diseases can increase the risk of sunburn, or photo responsiveness. Under the influence of sunlight, the skin is damaged faster than usual (e.g. in people with fair skin). Medications that make you more sensitive to the sun include acne treatments.


Medical products that cause photosensitivity should always be labelled with a sunscreen sticker or notice that you should avoid the sun while using it. Be sure to read the label or ask your pharmacist.

Sun urticaria


Sun urticaria is a rare sign of photosensitivity. The first sign, which appears immediately after exposure to the sun, is erythema, hives and a burning sensation. It can occur all over the body or only on skin exposed to the sun. The characteristic feature of urticaria is the immediate onset of erythema and hives.


How to protect your skin from the sun?


After sun exposure, remember about proper after-sun care in the form of soothing, calming and regenerating products. Check the composition of cosmetics, they should contain Vitamin E, D-panthenol, aloe vera extract, urea, allantoin, glycerin - as gels, lotions, body lotions. Hyaluronic acid, coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, E and A (cream or serum), which will mitigate the negative effects of UV radiation on the facial skin.


Exposure to excessive doses of sunlight, in addition to the above reactions, also causes premature skin ageing (manifested by deep wrinkles and furrows, as well as a network of fine lines) sagging of the skin, telangiectasias, elastosis (i.e. dirtiness of the skin surface, so-called farmer's skin), age spots (lentigines, freckles), solar keratosis (a precancerous condition), lymototic warts.


Chronic sun-induced disorders are those that result from long-term exposure to UV rays, or those that appear after many years of sun exposure. We divide them into cancerous and non-cancerous lesions. Cancerous lesions are divided into melanoma and non-melanoma (I will write about this another time).


Remember, if you have a lesion on your skin that doesn't heal for more than 6 weeks, you need to see a doctor immediately. Regularly check all your moles and lesions for changes in size, shape, or colour. React to new lesions appearing very quickly, observe them. Check them with your doctor, who thanks to a device can determine whether the change is safe or not. Often your quick reaction and follow-up with your doctor can save your life.


Final words


It is worth knowing and learning how the sun affects the skin. Most skin damage can be prevented just by your knowledge and quick reaction.


We need the sun, it makes us grow, keeps us in good shape, often also mentally.


However, moderation is very important in the use of the sun, you must always remember that overdoing it, not protecting your skin with creams, not covering your face, etc. can have a bad outcome.


Besides, this not only applies to the sun but also excessive use of solariums.


So let's enjoy the sun, but with a sensible approach :)

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