The Skin Barrier-let’s begin with just a bit of biology. The outer thin layer of your skin is called the epidermis. It has an upper layer called the stratum corneum. This upper layer is the skin barrier. Think of it as being like the shell of an egg but for your skin. The skin barrier is made up of cells held tightly together by fats and holds a protein that naturally moisturizes the skin. It protects your skin in multiple ways by keeping irritants such as pollution and toxins out. It also monitors water loss and keeps skin hydrated. If you have dry, flaky skin, eczema, or psoriasis your skin barrier may likely be damaged. Here are some thoughts on what to do and not do to protect your skin barrier.
Lifestyle choices can damage your skin barrier
The choices we make can help or hinder the skin barrier.
Try to stay out of dry, humid places and extreme weather conditions whether it be hot or cold.
Avoid too much sun as well as processed food and smoking.
Cleansing your skin should be done with warm water and mild soap. Don’t over wash or exfoliate too often.
As much as possible reduce mental and physical stress. Get enough sleep.
There are also uncontrollable factors that can influence the skin barrier including aging, family history, and ethnicity.
If your skin’s appearance lacks elasticity, is dry, wrinkled, or discolored the skin barrier may be damaged. Other symptoms of damage may include thinning, itchiness, and bacterial or viral infections.
Protect your skin barrier with good skin care
The best way to protect your skin barrier is to practice good skin care. Doing so will protect your skin now and as you age.
Apply a moisturizer daily preferably while skin is damp. Moisturizers hold water in the skin barrier. Products containing glycerin and lactic acid pull water in to hydrate the skin making it elastic and smooth.
Shield your skin from the sun. You can apply broad-spectrum sunscreen before going outdoors. Or wear clothes that cover your skin along with a hat that shades your face. The sun’s harshest rays appear between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
Pamper your skin. Don’t pull or poke at it. Avoid aggressive scratching and shaving. Long, hot- water bathing is not good for your skin barrier. Try short, warm water cleansing. Pat skin dry with a towel.
Eat well. This means including healthy whole foods and healthy fats to your diet. Colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, salmon, and nuts are some of the foods that are good for your skin. Also, drink water to keep skin hydrated.
Your skin barrier is important. Protect it.
(Illustration source: skin library)