Whether you realize it or not, the health of your skin is judged every single day. You do it yourself when you look in the mirror for blotches and bumps. Others also look at your skin to determine how attractive you are.
Q. What are the signs of healthy skin?
A. Consistent color and even texture. Now, this doesn’t mean that your skin is as smooth as glass, or that it should be. On the contrary, it has tiny peaks around hair follicles and pores, and tiny valleys in between the peaks. However, with healthy skin, these peaks and valleys are consistent – giving your skin a uniform appearance.
Unhealthy skin on the other hand, doesn’t have a uniform texture and may be inconsistent in color. Here are a few signs of unhealthy skin: Bumps; acne; blackheads or whiteheads; wrinkles; scars; blotchiness; spots that are dark, light or red; scaly skin.
Q. Is dry skin considered unhealthy?
A. Yes, it is. Healthy skin is well hydrated. The skin cells slough off, but this sloughing is not noticeable. With dry skin, too many skin cells slough at the same time, creating problems like flaking, scaling and itching.
Q. I have lots of moles. What should I look for to determine if I need to see a physician to have them checked?
A. Not all moles look alike – they can vary in color, be flat or raised, round, oval or irregularly shaped, and still be quite normal. However, most typically normal moles are round, evenly colored, raised, symmetrical, small and have well defined borders.
You should check your skin frequently to learn to recognize the usual appearance of your moles. Any changes should be examined by a dermatologist as quickly as possible. Look for asymmetry – if half of the mole doesn’t match the other half in size, shape, color or thickness – or if the edges of a mole are ragged, scalloped, blurred or poorly defined. If the color isn’t the same throughout, and especially if it becomes spontaneously inflamed, you should have it examined.
Q. How serious are rashes?
A. There are many different kinds of rashes, and they may be serious or just mildly annoying. Irritated rashes are called “dermatitis,” the most common of which is atopic dermatitis or eczema. Other rashes may be caused by psoriasis, rosacea or an allergic reaction. If a rash persists more than a few weeks, see your dermatologist to be diagnosed and receive the proper treatment.
Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.