Top 10 Worst Skin Habits: Your Fix-it Guide
1. Not protecting yourself from UVA and UVB radiation either from the sun or tanning machines. There is nothing that will age the skin quicker or increase your risk for skin cancer more than UVA and UVB exposure.
Fix it: Protect! Protect! Protect! Use a high-SPF sunscreen with broad-spectrum sun protection and a physical block like zinc or titanium dioxide. Don’t forget to reapply throughout the day. Get under an umbrella, stay in the shade, and play tennis or golf in the early a.m. or late afternoon when the sun isn’t as powerful. And please stay away from tanning salons—read more about the dangers of tanning beds here.
2. Smoking is a close second to the sun as a cause of premature skin aging, not to mention the damage it does to your entire body. Not only does this nasty habit thicken and wrinkle the skin, it also discolors it. Yellowing or grayish coloration may also occur due to decreased oxygenation of the skin. As a long-term smoker, your wound healing capabilities are impaired, which makes you a poor candidate for many “fixes“ such as surgery, chemical peels, or microneedling.
Fix it: Don’t start or find a way to quit. Enlist the help of a therapist, an acupuncturist, whatever it takes. It’s never too late! The good news is the sooner you quit, the better able your body is to repair the damage.
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3. Eating poorly and not exercising.
Fix it: Please don't minimize the importance of exercising regularly and eating a clean, healthy diet. Taking care of your body as a whole—not just its surface or separate parts—really matters. Remember: garbage in, garbage out.
4. Yo-yo dieting. Weight fluctuations up and down the scale take a huge toll on the skin. When skin stretches to accommodate the additional pounds, skin laxity occurs when the weight is lost. This is especially hard on the face and difficult to correct even with surgery.
Fix it: Maintain a steady body weight throughout your life with diet and exercise. Investigate if personal, emotional issues are a root cause of your weight challenges. Search for spiritual or social support that works for you, such as meditation, Overeaters Anonymous, or working with a health coach or nutritionist. Finding a way to love yourself can take care of weight issues once and for all. It’s also a good idea to get your thyroid function tested and to check for other biological issues that might be contributing to your weight fluctuations.
5. Not taking care of your face by washing it, removing makeup, and moisturizing it every night.
Fix it: Prevent breakouts by establishing a routine to wash away dirt and oil collected on your face over the course of the day. Moisturizing is important because it replaces oils that are stripped away along with the dirt. Otherwise, dryness can lead to itchiness and cracking, which both worsen chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
6. Not drinking enough water.
Fix it: It’s so important to drink water throughout the day to keep your skin well hydrated. Generally, 6-8 cups a day is sufficient. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and sodas because they contribute to skin dehydration.
7. Picking at pimples, bumps, or bites. When you do this, these blemishes take longer to heal and can lead to scars or changes in pigmentation.
Fix it: Avoid picking! Sit on your hands, be mindful, or distract yourself with a project or friends. Patience speeds healing.
8. Picking at cuticles and going to nail salons that don’t sterilize their instruments. All salon instruments can be contaminated with blood or organisms from previous customers if not cleaned and sterilized properly. This can contribute to infections in the cuticle area, which can be fungal or bacterial. This can result in painful paronychia, which requires antibiotics or incisions to drain away infection.
Fix it: Keep nails, fingers, and toes well groomed. Trim dangling cuticles with clean instruments instead of picking and pulling at them. Protect yourself by bringing your own instruments to nail salons, including polishes and files. You can also go for a clean, sterilized medical pedicure at a medical spa such as ours.
9. Ignoring the message your skin is sending you through symptoms. If your scalp is itchy after your hair is colored, you might be developing an allergy to your hair dye. If you have pinpoint pain when you walk in those new, expensive shoes, you may be developing a corn from them. I know you love them, but your feet don’t.
Fix it: Listen to your body. It is your wise guide. It’s easier to intervene early rather than wait for a more serious or harder to treat problem to develop. If you have a new spot on your face that you think is a pimple, but it’s still there 3 months later, it's probably not a pimple. It could be the start of a skin cancer and getting it checked out asap can make a big difference in your ultimate outcome.
10. Avoiding regular skin exams because you’re afraid of finding a problem.
Fix it: Knowledge is powerful, preventative, and life saving. You’ve heard me say it before: on your birthday, have your birthday suit examined. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends this practice because early detection of skin cancer is the key to beating it. It is truly better to know. Then you can take action.
Call 203-323-5660 to set up your annual skin exam!