Seven steps to healthy skin

Consultant Dermatologist at Bupa UK
21 December 2016

When you’re unhappy with your appearance, it’s hard to face the world with confidence.  Blemishes, dry skin, wrinkles – whatever the cause, most of us worry about a skin problem at some stage in life. Help is at hand though. Follow these seven steps for any skin type, to get a healthier complexion.

To build healthy skin, you need a solid foundation in the form of a healthy lifestyle. When a skin problem does appear, see a health professional sooner rather than later, so they can help you clear it up.

A woman's hand on her bare arm

1. Use sun protection

It’s well known that too much sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, so it’s worthwhile protecting your skin for this reason alone. But did you know that sunlight also causes unwanted pigmentation, reduces collagen and takes away some of your skin’s elasticity? Protect your skin by using  a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

We do need some sunshine so the body can make vitamin D.  Vitamin D is needed for healthy bone development, and it may also help protect against certain cancers such as colon, prostate and breast cancer. Vitamin D is present in very few foods and is also produced by the body when exposed to sunshine. In order to get sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure, the advice for people in the UK without a history of skin cancer is 20 minutes outside each day, without sunscreen.

Many people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, and you may consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. You can get this over the counter from your local chemist and you can ask your pharmacist or GP about the best dose for you.

2. Stop smoking

Smoking makes your skin age faster. It breaks down the collagen that gives it firm support and also makes your skin less elastic. Looking younger is one of many good reasons to get support from your GP or pharmacist, so you can quit successfully.

3. Follow a healthy diet

A healthy, balanced diet will nourish your skin, especially if you include foods that have lots of antioxidants. These help to keep the body’s tissues in good repair. You won’t go wrong if you opt for a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables each day.

4. Drink water

Drinking sufficient quantities of water is important for overall good health. It’s a good idea to drink six to eight glasses a day, or more if it’s really hot or you are very active. Water, low-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count towards your total. Your skin is a protective barrier and needs enough water to stay effective. Dehydration can also make your skin look drier.

5. Use moisturiser

Protect your skin and seal in precious moisture by using a moisturiser every day. It doesn’t have to an expensive one, but it does have to be suitable for your skin type. If spots are a problem, use oil-free products. For older or drier skin, you’ll want something richer. You may need to experiment a bit until you find the moisturiser that’s just right for you. This may change over time as you go through different stages in life. 

6. Get exercise and rest

Regular physical activity is vital for your overall health, and it’s also great for relieving stress, which can affect your skin. It’s equally important to get enough sleep, and make space in your life for relaxation.

7. Get skin problems checked out

Skin problems are incredibly common, yet people are often reluctant to see a doctor about them. Perhaps some people are embarrassed, or worried that it’s too trivial to bother their GP about. But it’s always worthwhile to get a stubborn skin problem checked out. There’s a good chance your GP can offer treatment that will help clear it up. It’s also easier to manage a skin problem at an early stage, before complications start to happen.

If your problem needs specialist diagnosis and treatment, your GP can refer you to a dermatologist who knows all about skin conditions. That’s what we’re trained for, and we are always here when you need us.

You don't need to have our health insurance to come to us for dermatology services. So, there's nothing stopping you getting our expert help and support. Book an appointment with us today.

Dr Karen Watson
Consultant Dermatologist at Bupa UK

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