Spring is just around the corner, and with a new season, it’s a great time to think about a refresh for your skin.
The winter weather can take its toll on your skin. And aging can cause fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and sometimes hollowed areas around the eyes and cheeks.
You may also experience a noticeable loss of firmness on the hands and neck. And while you can’t stop or even slow down this process, there are some things you can do to help gain a new and refreshed appearance.
While good skin care – including sun protection, gentle cleansing, and quitting smoking can keep your skin healthy and glowing for years to come, there are multiple dermatological treatment options available.
Q. What can I do to help improve the appearance of my skin?
A. If you’re looking for a smoother and refreshed appearance, there are a variety of treatments available to improve damaged skin. Dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, chemical peeling, microdermabrasion, and some topical treatments can restore your skin. Injectable fillers work well for people with busy lifestyles who do not want the inconvenience of downtime.
Q. What causes the skin to age?
A. Over time, the skin loses its underlying layers of fat, and the production of collagen and elastin fibers slows. As a result, the skin loses its fullness. There are two distinct types of aging: aging caused by the genes we inherit, and aging caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun’s rays or smoking.
Q. Can I do anything to get rid of brown spots?
A. You may be noticing flat gray, brown or black spots on your face, hands, shoulders and arms. These are the areas most exposed to the sun. Liver spots – also called age spots and solar lentigines – can be lightened with skin-bleaching products, or removed. Avoiding the sun and using sunscreen can help prevent future dark skin spots.
Q. My skin feels dry and itches. What causes this?
A. Dry skin is one of the major causes of itchiness in skin. Aging, cold weather and sun damage reduce the capacity of the skin to moisturize itself – so the skin becomes dry and itchy. Moisture is essential for the skin barrier to perform well. There’s less moisture in the skin during winter than in the warmer months, as well as fewer lipids in the skin barrier. These differences contribute to dryness and irritation. Keep your skin moisturized and use lip balm.
Q. Does sun exposure play a big role in damaged skin?
Damage accumulates with repeated exposure to the sun causing the skin to lose the ability to repair itself. Just a few minutes of sun exposure each day can cause noticeable changes to the skin over time. Always wear sunscreen – even on those cloudy days, or if you only plan to be outside for short periods of time.
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.