NHM Health Focus:
Your skin is the first line of defense against invaders from the
world of pathogens and disease. It encases your body, keeping disease agents on the outside and
you inside. It cools you when you are too hot, and helps warm
you when you are too cold. Its sensors alert you to changes in
the world around you as you feel heat and cold, pressure and pain.
While your skin protects you, it is also a good idea for you to protect
your skin. Skin can be damaged by the sun's rays (UVA and UVB rays),
insects, poor diet, chemicals, smoking, and lack of exercise.
"Cancer of the skin is the most common of cancers, probably accounting
for at least half of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer
cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths."
To prevent skin cancer, stay out of the sun. Skin cancer is a
largely preventable disease when sun protective practices and behaviors
are consistently applied and used. Protective practices such as
staying in the shade, wearing a shirt, pants or beach cover-up, wearing
a hat, and using sunscreen help you to greatly reduce your chances of skin
"A tan is the body's desperate attempt to protect itself from the sun's
harmful rays" (AAFP).
Allergies, irritation and insect bites are other skin conditions over which
you have some control.
Allergies: "Red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, swollen skinany of these
symptoms can signify an allergic skin condition. These skin problems
are often caused by an immune system reaction, signifying an allergy
Insect bites: Insect repellent helps keep insects away from you and
reduces the chances that they will feast on you.
Recent research gives yet another reason to exercise. Exercise
benefits your skin as well as the rest of your body (WebMD).
You will help keep your skin healthy if you
out of the sun,
eat healthy foods,
and contact your doctor
for advice when you have a persistent skin problem.
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to skin health: