We’ve been cocooned for months, but it’s time to peel away the layers and let our skin shine. Dermatology nurse specialist Selene Daly gives her tips for soft, smooth, sun-safe skin.
Wear sunscreen daily between March and October
The most common form of cancer diagnosed in Ireland is skin cancer, with 11,000 cases registered per year, including over 1,000 cases of melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. UV light is also responsible for the visible signs of ageing, such as pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. UV light has a direct effect on elastin and collagen, two proteins that help to keep our skin looking youthful. UV exposure can also trigger a common skin condition called rosacea.
People who suffer from rosacea experience redness and blushing or flushing of the cheeks and nose, small, dilated blood vessels and sometimes pimples and spots. This skin disease has been referred to as the ‘curse of the Celts’ as it is common among people with a fair skin type. There are a number of triggers for rosacea — certain foods and alcohol — but the most common activator of rosacea is UV light, so it is imperative to use a sunscreen to prevent flares. Importantly, your sunscreen should be a factor 30 or 50.
Smooth out that ‘chicken skin’
Keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition that is thought to affect between 50-70pc of adolescents and 40pc of adults. The condition occurs when extra keratin blocks the hair follicles which results in skin that looks like goosebumps but feels rough to the touch. It is also referred to as ‘chicken skin’ as it may resemble plucked chicken skin. It usually affects the outer arms, thighs, buttocks and the lower back. The exact cause is not fully understood, however over 50pc of people with this skin condition have a family member who has keratosis pilaris, and it tends to be worse during the winter due to dry, humid indoor heating. While there is no cure for the condition lifestyle changes can help:
⬤ Wash in tepid water using soap-free cleansers with a low preservative content;
⬤ Regularly moisturise to ensure that the skin is adequately hydrated, as dry skin is more susceptible to a flare of keratosis pilaris;
⬤ Switch to urea-based formulations to exfoliate the skin and use them regularly. (One of my current favourites for keratosis pilaris is U-Life 30 Ecofoam as its high urea content dissolves keratin, unblocking the pore.)
Stop using soap
Dry and tight, red and irritated skin is what we want to avoid so it is important to look at what we use to cleanse our skin in the shower or bath. A soap-free wash that is oil-based is a good way to clean skin. Many of the items we use to wash our face and body contain sodium lauryl sulfates, which are foaming, cleansing agents that can irritate our skin, dehydrate it, and upset its natural protective barrier. Look out for it in shampoo — as suds can drip onto your skin, causing discomfort.
Adopt a multitasker
Moisturising is key to glowing skin, but exfoliation is the first step to allow product to be absorbed. Urea is part of our Natural Moisturising Factor – a group of components, naturally present in the skin that keep it hydrated and moisturised. At low concentrations, urea keeps water in the skin for longer, giving a boost of moisturisation. At higher strengths, urea is extremely efective at breaking down dry, rough and thickened skin, making it a fantastic multitasker.
Selene Daly, RELIFE Ireland Dermatology Nurse Specialist Advisor, is a dermatology nurse specialist working in Sligo University Hospital. RELIFE’s Relizema range is ideal for those with dry skin, eczema and dermatitis, and its U-Life range is for very dry and thickened skin. For more information visit relife.ie
Health & Living