Let’s get skin deep

Do you know this about your skin?

Did you know that your skin is one of your most important organs in your body?  It is also the largest and has a variety of functions. 

  • It is a barrier that shields you from toxins and infectious agents in the environment.
  •  It produces hormones, including Vitamin D3.  
  • It keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.

Your skin may be the first sign of illness

Your skin can be a good indicator of your overall health.  If you aren’t healthy your skin shows it.  If your liver is failing, your skin will turn yellow from the extra bilirubin in your body.  If your blood vessels are narrowed, the perfusion to your skin decreases and it looks discolored and heals poorly.  If your immune system is attacking organs in your body, the skin is often included and may show it.  Many diseases are diagnosed by their effect on the skin.

Your skin’s worst enemy, and you have total control

What hurts your skin the most?   It is something under your control and you guessed it, too much exposure to sun.  If you look at your butt and compare that to your sun exposed arms and face, you will be able to tell how much damage was done.

Yes, this is the softest and smoothest part on your body, free from sun

Who looks younger, smoother and firmer?  Butt or face? Speaking of butts.  Yes, smoking as another way of harming your skin.  Smoke from cigarettes in addition to the damage it does to the blood vessels in the body, it also takes a toll on your skin.  As your skin wrinkles and suffers from smoke, the same thing is going on inside your body and affecting your coronary arteries and other blood vessels that supply your brain, kidneys and other vital organs. You can easily tell someone who smokes by their skin.

Smoking causes wrinkles and damages other parts of your body

Like other parts of your body, changes to the skin occur normally with aging.  It thins, sags and wrinkles. There is loss of the fibrous tissues (connective tissue) that keeps it firm. 

You can keep your skin in as good a shape as possible, healthier, and more able to perform its important functions by following a few simple rules.  If you have any interest in your health, you’ve already stopped smoking.  The other single best way to keep the ageing down to a dull roar is to liberally use sun screen when exposed to the sun for more than brief periods or to stay covered.  Wear a hat and remember hair thins with aging and exposes your scalp to the sun.  Keep it healthy as well.

How your skin functions

First, let’s talk about our skin and its function.  We have three layers: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous fat. Knowing what these layers do is important to understanding bruising, etc.

  • Epidermis : the skin’s top layer
    • It’s primary functions are: making new skin cells and protecting your body
  • Dermis: the skin’s middle layer
    • This is where the work happens and contains
      • the sweat glands
      • nerve endings
      • hair growth occurs here
      • oil generation (more problematic for adolescents)
      • home of the blood vessels and capillaries
  • Subcutaneous fat: the bottom layer of skin
    • Attaches the dermis to our muscles and bones
    • The pathway for your blood vessels and nerve cells to the rest of your body from here
    • Controls your body temperature (that’s why those jackets come out even in warm weather as one ages)
    • Provides padding and protection from bumps/falls to your muscles and bones

Reference: Information above was adapted from the website below.

https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/the-layers-of-your-skin

The effects of aging on our skin

As we age, our skin cells divide more slowly and skin begins to thin. Skin retains less moisture, causing it to become dry, scaly, and appear wrinkled. It loses its elasticity and instead of springing back, starts to sag. The skin’s ability to repair itself diminishes, and wounds are slower to heal. Blood vessels become more fragile.  Most bruises occur when those small blood vessels, or capillaries near the skin’s surface break because they are so fragile. How often do we hit our arm or leg on something and we see those bruises?   Darn walls and coffee tables!

Effects of Medications

  • Anti-coagulation medications reduce your blood’s ability to clot, which allows more blood to leak out and cause a bigger bruise
    • These include:
      • Aspirin and ibuprofen
      • Anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin® (warfarin)
      • Anti-platelet agents, like Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate)
  • Antibiotics might also be associated with clotting problems
  • Antidepressants
  • Topical and systemic corticosteroids — which can be used to treat various conditions, including allergies, asthma and eczema — cause your skin to thin, making it easier to bruise.
  • Ginkgo – a dietary supplement that people may take for “energy”, has a blood-thinning effect. (Please be mindful of supplements, especially if taking other medications)

Always check with your physician and review your medications, their side effects, and potential interaction with one another.

Nutrition to Strengthen Your Blood Vessels

Dietary bioflavonoids that contain rutin are believed to produce collagen and utilize vitamin C which some feel can help strengthen blood vessels and reduce bruising. Rutin can be found in apples, dark-colored berries (mulberries and cranberries), dark leafy greens, garlic, onions, buckwheat, most citrus, figs, and both black and green tea.

References

Your skin and the layers of the skin

https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/the-layers-of-your-skin

General discussion about bruising

http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/elderly-bruising

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/easy-bruising/art-20045762?pg=2

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/11/bruising-easily.aspx

Rutin

http://www.healthline.com/health/potential-benefits-of-rutin#overview1

http://www.wow.com/wiki/Rutin?s_chn=86&s_pt=source2&s_gl=US&v_t=content

Sandi Feaster

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