The Skin Bible: Disorders and Dilemmas (Part 2)

Welcome back to my skin series. If you haven’t read Part 1, scroll down a little and have a read through that first because it takes you through all the basics. Today we will be discussion skin conditions and disorders that you may think you have. Firstly it is important to make the distinction between a skin condition and a skin disorder.

Skin conditions refer to the skin’s reactive behaviour to external and internal stimulants (environment, diet and lifestyle). Examples are breakouts, dehydration, sun damage and irritation. One or more reactions may occur at a single time but it is usually temporary and can be treated. Skin disorders are less dependent on stimulants and refers to the intrinsic properties within your skin. They tend to be chronic and while still treatable are often difficult to remove completely.

Skin Conditions

DEHYDRATION

Remember when I said not to confuse this with a dry skin type in my Part 1? Well dehydration is often confused with dry skin; a dehydrated skin lacks moisture or water rather than oil. Skin can become dehydrated due to environmental factors such as sun exposure and central heating. It’s even possible to have an underlying oily skin with dehydration on the top layer. Who’d have thunk it? Surface dehydration affects up to 98% of the populations in varying degrees, and is associated with problems as diverse as scaly, taut skin, superficial lines and premature aging. The solution? DRINK WATER. Go back to that old 2L of water a day rule and it will help so much. A good moisturiser is also helpful, however if you have dehydrated skin but and oily skin type, go for something that is oil free.

SENSITIVITY

Sensitive skin is a term used to describe heightened skin sensitivity and a high incidence of adverse reactions to certain irritants. The more common skin irritants are detergents, certain skin care products and environmental factors such as cold, wind, rain, sun and heat. Between 50% and 60% of women will say that they have sensitive skin, however, it is important to differentiate between different types of “sensitivity”. Generally they can be grouped into:

1. Intolerant Skin

This type of skin may not have the typical sensitive characteristics of thin, dry and red skin. Instead you may find that you have become completely intolerant of any skincare; even those for sensitive skin or a range you have used happily for years. There may not even be any redness when these products are applied, instead you may feel severe stinging or burning and need to remove the product immediately. In this case we can consider your skin to be highly sensitised. There is no clear explanation for why this occurs but try to use only hypoallergenic products with no added fragrances; gently cleansing, moisturising and exfoliating.

2. Redness or Blotchy Skin

There is a high correlation between frequent blushing and flushing and sensitive skin. A thin epidermal layer and blood vessels that are very close to the surface can mean that the skin is easily stimulated by stress and external stimulants which causes vasodilation (visible capillaries) and surface warmth. This type of skin is more likely to be affected by factors such as temperature, emotions, spicy food, alcohol rather than reacting to topical skincare. Products that contain ingredients to soothe redness and minimise broken capillaries are most appropriate.

3. Irrittated

While all sorts of skin can be categorized as sensitive, individuals with thin or finely textured skin tend to have a higher incidence of heightened skin sensitivity. Do you remember which skin type was more likely to have think skin? If not go back to Part 1. I told you it was an important read!

As there is not enough sebum on the top layer of the epidermis their skin will feel dry and become easily irritated by external irritations. This type of skin will need to be treated with products that build up the lipid element of the top layer of the skin. Regular exfoliation to remove keratinized skin cells will help moisturising ingredients penetrate and stimulate cell turnover to build skin thickness.

4. Allergic

People often confuse sensitivity and irritation with an allergic reaction. Irritation only occurs on the area of application and appears immediately. The skin reacts by signalling pain and heat and/or causing redness and swelling. The best treatment is to stop using the irritating substance.

Allergies are different from irritations in how they cause reaction in the skin and body. An allergic reaction elicits a systemic response that may occur all over the body and can be triggered even by the smallest amount. An allergic reaction often has a delayed onset as well. This can take from 4 days to 3 weeks. During this time there are no signs of skin damage. Once the substance is in the body, it triggers the body’s defence cells to react to it by rushing to the place where it entered. When a sensitised person is reexposed to the allergy causing substance, the body releases chemicals called histamines. Histamines can create redness, pain, itching, swelling and small blisters. Because of the delayed and non localised response, sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what caused the allergy. Your doctor can often help you determine common allergens that may trigger a response in you. However, if you are able to narrow it down to a substance or product, stop using it immediately.

PIGMENTATION

Pigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin production that is normally the skin’s way of trying to protect itself from external factors. Exposure to sunlight is the major cause while others include acne scarring, ingrown hairs, and reactions to facial waxing or intensive facial procedures (such as fruit acid peels). This happens because the skin’s pigment, melanin, absorbs the energy of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect the skin from overexposure. Skin tanning occurs as a result of this process. Treatment for pigmentation is normally focused on blocking melanin production and dispersing the melanocytes that have “clumped” together under the top layers of the skin. The best products to recommend are a serum that does the above and a very effective exfoliant to remove the top, darker layers of the epidermis. Basically suncreen up people!

ACNE

Teens are more likely to suffer from acne because at the onset of puberty, their bodies begin to produce androgens. These “male” hormones are a natural part of development for both boys and girls, but boys tend to produce more of them, resulting in more severe breakouts. Sebum production normally decreases in the early 20’s but it can flare up again at any age (due to hormonal changes).

Oil glands produce extra sebum, which blocks hair follicles and clumps together with the dead skin cells. When this mixture travels through the pores, it blocks the pore and the oil and bacteria get trapped inside. The body’s immune system rushes to the area to produce an enzyme that damages the wall of the hair follicle, allowing the contents of the pore to enter the skin. This causes an inflammatory response which results in:

• Whiteheads; when a pore becomes clogged, closes, and then bulges out

• Blackheads; if a pore becomes clogged but stays open, the top may darken and you’re left with a blackhead.

• Pimples; sometimes when the walls of the pore become damaged it allows bacteria and dead skin to work their way under the live skin. This leaves you with a red small infection.

• Cysts; clogged pores that are open deep in the skin cause cysts which are generally infections or accumulations of sebum, larger than pimples.

There are a whole array of products to help with this. If you are a serious sufferer of the above then go get some personalised advice from either a good beautician or even a dermatologist or doctor can help.

SUN DAMAGE

With repeated exposure to the sun, the skin loses the ability to repair itself, and the damage accumulates. Scientific studies have shown that repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen and impairs the synthesis of new collagen. The sun also attacks our elastin and it ceases to spring back much earlier than skin protected from UV rays. As explained previously, sun exposure will also increase the chances of skin discoloration and dark spots. I think you know what the solution is! SPF and suncreen my dears.

Skin Disorders

ROSACEA

This affects the middle third of the face with persistent redness over the areas of the face and nose that normally blushes: mainly the forehead, the chin and the lower half of the nose. The tiny blood vessels in these areas enlarge (dilate) and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines. Pimples can occur that look like teenage acne.

It occurs most often in adults (ages 30 to 50); especially those with fair skin, and affect both sexes but tend to be more common in women but worse in men. Rosacea can be treated but not cured. Avoiding smoking and food and drink (such as spicy food, hot beverages and alcoholic drinks) that cause flushing helps minimize the blood vessel enlargement. Limiting exposure to sunlight and to extreme hot and cold temperatures also helps relieve the symptoms.

ECZEMA

Eczema is a term for different types of skin inflammation. The symptoms of eczema commonly include itchy, reddened, dry skin. Many things can cause this type of skin irritation such as dryness, soaps and detergents, cleaning products, rubber gloves and even cosmetic lotions and creams. Since the skin is itchy, prolonged scratching often occurs which in turn leads to reddened, irritated, scaling skin or to a leathery thickening of the skin. Cracking and weeping of the skin may also occur and open sores may become infected.

The causes of eczema have not been fully determined. Allergies, stress, irritants, and genetic factors are all believed to be related to the development of this condition. The tendency to have skin reactions like this often runs in families. People with eczema involving their hands may also have symptoms of asthma, food allergies, or hay fever.

PSORIASIS

Psoriasis typically looks like red or pink areas of thickened, raised, and dry skin. It classically affects areas over the elbows, knees, and scalp. Essentially anybody area may be involved. It tends to be more common in areas of trauma, repeat rubbing, use, or abrasions. Psoriasis has many different appearances. It may be small flattened bumps, large thick plaques of raised skin, red patches, and pink mildly dry skin to big flakes of dry skin that flake off.

Psoriasis it is considered a long-term (chronic) skin condition. Sometimes psoriasis may clear for years and stay in remission. Some people have worsening of their symptoms in the colder winter months. Many people report improvement in warmer months, climates, or with increased sunlight exposure.

So now you know even more about the skin you’re in! I hope that was helpful. Part 3 will be up in a couple of days and will help you create a skin care regimen that works for you. I will go through the basics and the extra steps you can add in to really maximise the glow and beauty of the skin you are in!

Until then,

xox your local bohemian

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