Wednesday, 29 November 2017


Before I tell you about what happens when your skin is bruised or sun-burned, I will tell you what you should know about human skin.                                                   
It is the outer covering of the body. In humans, it is the largest organ of the integumentary system. The skin has up to seven layers of ectodermal tissue and guards the underlying muscles, bonesligaments and internal organs. Speaking of organs, the skin is our largest organ.

Human skin is similar to that of most other mammals except whales. Yes, they are mammals. Did you know that a pig’s skin in almost like human skin? Although nearly all human skin is covered with hair to some degree.  Some people are very hairy and some people are entirely hairless. Most people are in between.

A baby’s skin is very smooth and as the baby grows older, the smooth texture is gone and as the baby grows into a teenager, the child’s skin becomes a rougher texture. When the teenager grows into a man or woman, the texture is even rougher and when he or she is elderly, the skin is very rough.

If you're going to the beach and frolicking in the waves, that glowing tan and beach-tussled hair may not be the only thing you're coming home with. That sea salt may be leaving your skin dry, cracked, and flaky. But worse yet, it may be burned if you didn’t take precautions.

I will tell you about the dangers of having your skin burned by the sun. First of all, you can get sunburned even when it is cloudy. I learned this the hard way.

In 1953, I was a helmsman on a Canadian warship. Our ship was in its home base and it was very warm outside. I had some free time so I took off my shirt and laid down on a narrow mattress on the deck in my shorts while enjoying the cool breeze coming in from the bay. Later that afternoon, I felt pain on my back, abdomen, legs and arms. I was suffering from a very bad sunburn.

When I was visiting my mother in Palm Springs, California, I spent most of the month sunbathing. It is a miracle that I didn’t get skin cancer.

Skin cancer (melanoma) develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day such as your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, your genital area and even in the soles of your feet. Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones be it light or dark.

Melanoma signs include: a large brownish spot with darker speckles. a mole that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds, a small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue or blue-black, dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus.

Kaposi sarcoma is rare form of skin cancer that develops in the skin's blood vessels and causes red or purple patches on the skin or mucous membranes.

Kaposi sarcoma mainly occurs in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS, and in people taking medications that suppress their natural immunity, such as people who've undergone organ transplants. Other people with an increased risk of Kaposi sarcoma include young men living in Africa or older men of Italian or Eastern European Jewish heritage.

Melanoma, which is the most deadly type of skin cancer, accounted for 76,380 known cases of skin cancer in 2016 in the United States alone.

One of my best friend’s father died a horrible painful death from skin cancer. Think of the sun as your skin’s worst enemy. 

Shingles is a very painful skin infliction. My mother got it when she was a teenager. She said it was like being burned with a blow torch. Incidentally, it doesn’t cover your entire body—only one side of your upper body. The only people who are at risk of getting shingles are if they first had chicken pox. I got chicken pox which is highly contagious, when I was 15 years of age. There is a shingles vaccine which is expensive but it should be taken because if you get shingles, you could suffer from it non-stop for years and there is no cure for it once you get it. I finally got smart and had the vaccine injected into me a couple of years ago. Like all injections, the only pain you suffer from is the prick of the needle.

In scientific terms, your skin is technically ‘dry’ when its moisture level is less than 10%Cracked, flaky and dry skin tends to occur when humidity drops in the chilly months.                    

Especially dry, irritated, or inflamed skin is also called xerosis, which is usually a minor and temporary problem that can be solved with the use of good moisturizing lotions.

Moisture is delivered to the skin via blood vessels, but they only supply moisture to the middle layer of the skin which is the dermis. From there, water travels upward and outward through the epidermis before evaporating into the atmosphere. Alas, this evaporation causes skin to crack and flake. This process happens constantly, but skin isn't always dry. That's because the dryer the air the more moisture it will pull from your skin.

Moisturizers work in one of two main ways: they either trap moisture in your skin to keep it from escaping, or they restore moisture in the outer layer of skin that's already been lost. With the glut of lotions and creams on the market, it can be easy to get lost in the sea of brand-named jellies. At the most basic level, however, there are three types of moisturizers. Each works slightly differently, but most products combine all three.

These are called the “old school” or “first generation” moisturizers such as petroleum jelly or its brand name, Vaseline. This class of waxes, oils, and silicones work in a very simple way: They create a barrier over the skin, trapping water in the skin's layers and stopping evaporation.

The molecules in these moisturizers contain long chains of carbon atoms that repel water. The closing of the blood vessels temporarily are super effective at minimizing dryness, because it cuts evaporation by a whopping 98%. Unfortunately, they can be very sticky, messy, and not very cosmetically appealing.

Keep in mind however that if you are in a very hot environment, you don’t want to stop the evaporation of moisture from your body because it is the evaporation of the moisture from your skin that cools you.

However, thousands of people have died in non-air-conditioned homes by sitting in from of a fan. The danger they faced is that while their skin sweat on their skin was evaporating, more sweat took its place until most of the moisture in their body was gone and they died. The reason for this was that they had fallen asleep and therefor hey weren’t able to refresh their supply of lost water in their bodies. If you are using a fan to cool off on a very hot day and sitting in a comfortable chair in a non-air-conditioned room,  set your alarm clock for a 30-minute alarm so if you do fall asleep. it will wake you up and you can get a drink of water to replace the water that has previously left your body.

Are all moisturizers created equal? Can you become addicted to lip balm?     Moisturizing lotion and lip balm are staples in many women’s beauty regimens. Many women just slap them on without much thought; after all, skin cream is skin cream, right?

There are several types of moisturizers you can choose from, according to your skin’s needs. Humectants, such as glycerin and lactic acid, attract water and help skin retain moisture. Emollients, such as fatty acids and ceramides, soften and soothe. Occlusives (known as ‘barrier creams’), such as petrolatum, dimethicone or lanolin, leave a film on the surface of the skin and seal in moisture.

Most products contain a combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives, so it’s easiest to choose a moisturizer based on your skin type. There are formulas for oily or acne-prone skin (look for ‘oil-free’ and ‘non-comedogenic’ on the label); sensitive skin; and dry or mature skin.

You’ll also notice that moisturizers have different textures. Occlusives tend to be the heaviest of the bunch.  Lotions are light, and creams are a little more substantia. If you have dry or extra-dry skin, you want something that has more substance. For that reason it is better to use a cream, which tends to protect skin better than a lotion will.  Make sure you turn on your humidifiers in the winter months. That is because our skin tends to be drier in colder months, so use a cream in fall and winter, and switch to a lotion for warmer weather.

While many moisturizers can be used on most of your body, you should invest in a couple of specialty creams, including a facial product. ‘The face is more prone to acne than the body, it’s going to have more sun damage, and eventually it could be an extra-dry area of your body.

Easy bruising: Why does it happen?  As you get older; you don't recall bumping into anything, but lately you seem to be bruising frequently. Is this cause for concern?

Easy bruising is more common as you get older. Although most bruises are harmless and go away without treatment, easy bruising can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem.

Most bruises form when small blood vessels (capillaries) near the skin's surface are broken by the impact of a blow or injury and they occur more often on the arms or legs. When this happens, blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a black-and-blue mark. Eventually your body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. Obviously the harder the blows will cause larger bruises.

However, if you bruise easily, a minor bump—one you might not even notice, can result in becoming a substantial bruise.

Some people; especially women are more prone to bruising than others. As we get older, our skin also becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion our blood vessels from injury. Does this mean that really fat people won’t bruise so easily?  I ain’t going to touch this question any further  even with a ten-foot barge pole. It would be akin to sticking my finger into the mouth of a rattle snake. 

I hope you have found this article interesting and informative. 

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