Courtesy of THIS Quarterly magazine
 
 
Habits that affect your skin
 
 

Age and environmental factors are inevitable but unhealthy habits can be changed.

By Dr Cheong Lai Leng, Dermatologist

Everyone makes mistakes; but there's a type of mistake that's worse than the rest: the repeated mistake.

Many people have unhealthy habits and lifestyles which affect their skin, often without them realising it. The severity of these effects depends on how deep and frequent these habits are. Among the ones that adversely affect the skin are smoking, environmental pollution, over-exposure to the sun's rays and unhealthy diets-all issues which dermatologists have continuously warned about. Consistently poor lifestyle choices coupled with age hasten the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles on our faces and bodies.

From big lifestyle choices like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption to the lack of healthy skincare habits like moisturising and wearing protective gear when under the sun for long hours, the decisions we make-whether consciously or not-do affect the health of our skin, maybe not immediately but definitely in the long term.

Wrinkles

These occur naturally when the collagen, elastic fibres and fatty cells in the skin that keep the skin firm start to thin with age. Overly-dry environments, air pollutants and inflammatory skin diseases contribute unwanted lines and grooves on faces and bodies.

While ageing and external damage are inevitable, the repetition of one or more of the following poor habits can accelerate damage to the skin instead of minimising it:

  • Spending hours under harsh sunlight (10am to 4pm) without sunscreen or protective clothing causes photo-damage and hastens the onset of sun spots and wrinkles on exposed areas.

  • Heavy consumption of alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages like soda or coffee can dehydrate skin and make it look dull. Alcohol reduces the absorption of vital nutrients such as Vitamins B1 and B12, folic acid and zinc.

  • Consistent lack of sleep prevents skin from resting and repairing, resulting in sagging and wrinkles.

  • Chronic stress causes subtle but long-term damage to the body and skin by producing  hormones that increase free radicals in the body, suppress the immune system, dehydrate the body and thin the skin.

  • Smoking hastens the appearance of wrinkles and dry skin in heavy smokers, while heavy exposure to second-hand smoke inhibits bloodf!ow to the skin and decreases its oxygen and nutrient levels.

  • Harsh skincare habits, such as excessive washing with soaps, scrubs or acidic cleansers, can be harmful to the skin, while careless treatment of skin irritations and wounds leads to long-staying blemishes and marks.

  • Habitual facial expressions like frowning or squinting produce frown lines and crow's feet.

Small adjustments can actually minimise the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes, just as big lifestyle changes can enhance health and appearance.

To Do
  • Consistently apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.
  • Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when out in the sun for long hours.
  • Adopt a balanced diet of foods containing Vitamins C, E and A to bolster the health of your skin.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Maintain a daily exercise regimen to strengthen your skin internally and reduce stress.

Changing old habits or introducing new ones can retard the onslaught of age-related skin changes and lessen the unwanted effects brought on by common and repeated mistakes.

 
 
 
LL CHEONG SKIN & LASER CLINIC
Dr Cheong Lai Leng
Consultant Dermatologist

MBBS (Singapore), M.Med (Internal Medicine),
MRCP (UK), FAMS (Dermatology).
Corr. Fellow, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery



3 Mount Elizabeth
#09-09 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
Singapore 228510
Tel : (65) 6836 1480
Fax : (65) 6836 1481
Email : enquiry@llcheongskin.com
Website : www.llcheongskin.com