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Protecting your skin: Preventive skin care

There are many good reasons to protect your skin - for your health and your looks.

Simple skin care measures

You can spend hundreds of pounds on skin care products, but that could be wasted without healthy skin care habits. For instance, do you properly cleanse your skin? If you're a woman who wears make-up, be sure to remove all traces of make-up at the end of the day. No matter what your gender is, you should drink plenty of water, providing your skin with vital moisture from the inside. When you're out in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen. Even though you won't see immediate results, those little steps make a big difference over time.

  • Start early. Integrate a proper skin care routine into your day early in life. If you're a teenager or if you have a teenager at home, start now to develop healthy habits. If you're an older adult, lead by example! You can't replace the skin you're in, but you can nourish and pamper it to protect it for the future. With the proper care, your skin can stay fresh as you age.
  • Seek professional help for skin problems. Skin is not going to be perfect. It can be dry or oily, and it can develop rashes and acne, among many other issues. Address the problem with a professional skin expert, either a beauty therapist at your local salon or a dermatologist for more severe skin problems.

Sun protection

Some safe exposure to the sun is important for health as it helps the body make vitamin D.

However, protecting your skin from too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important. Over time, exposure to UV radiation causes many changes in the skin, including wrinkles, discoloration, freckles or age spots, benign (non-cancerous) growths such as moles, pre-cancerous growths or cancerous growths such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. In fact, most skin cancers are related to sun exposure.

Exposure to the sun is so damaging to skin that is worth understanding this problem thoroughly. There are two main types of UV radiation: UVB and UVA. UVB rays cause sunburn and UVA rays cause ageing. Both rays contribute to the risk of developing skin cancer.

Sun protection recommendations emphasise certain behaviours, as well as the use of sunscreens. The recommendations include:

  • Avoiding the strongest sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, trousers and sunglasses
  • Using a generous amount of sunscreen and reapplying it frequently when outdoors (every couple of hours)
  • Using sunscreens that have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and that have UVA and UVB coverage
  • Avoiding tanning beds
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 05, 2017

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