There are about 30,000,00 cells, 100 sweat pores, 30 sebaceous glands and hair pores per square centimeter on the skin. Whew! And if you add to that the hormonal surges that occur at and around puberty, it all adds up to a massive potential for things to go wrong. And they do. Who hasn’t had to deal with skin stuff like acne, blackheads and the like? Pimples, spots, acne, zits, call it what you will, but there’s not one of us who doesn’t get worried by the prospect of having one spring up on your nose just on the morning of your date with that gorgeous guy/girl who’s finally agreed to go out with you!
General principles of normal skin care
Normal skin refers to skin that is not affected by any disease process. In normal skin there is a wide range of types of skin from dry to oily along with variations of skin textures, complexion and appearance. The basic principles that are advocated for skin care are applicable to all types of skin. The guidelines that are made available in TV commercials or across the counters are not necessarily based on the pathophysiological principles or facts. The recommendations for the skin care are based on principles of moderation, common sense and knowledge derived from the study of skin structure and function. In general day to day care of the skin is very simple.
Sunlight is a major contributing factor in causing alterations in skin that contribute to appearance of aging. Avoiding exposureheat to the direct sunlight is the most effective method but rarely feasible to all. The products available in the market are sunscreens and sunblocking agents. The general rule is, sun protection is more needed in fair skin than dark one. Any internal or external agent can not alter this cutaneous aging process, except the possible exception of tretinoin. The topical agents that are available can camouflage the aging effects or can induce transient changes due to mild irritation (rubefacient) of the skin. The tretinoin cream will not prevent aging but can alter or normalize keratinization in photo–damaged skin also may induce production of new dermal collagen. For wrinkles and sagging of the skin except cosmetic plastic surgery no agent helps. Other reasonable advice is to protect skin from harsh chemicals like acids or alkalis and strong physical agents like extreme of cold and heat and wind.
All structures of the skin like epidermis, hair follicles and nail matrices receive their blood supply and hence the nutrition from the cutaneous vasculature. Topically applied nutrients thus play no role in enhancing the nutrition of the skin and its structures and their growth. The skin disorders arising from avitaminoses or malnutrition can genuinely be corrected by nutritional supplements. The other skin structures like stratum corneum, hair and nail consist of dead cells and application of external agents like protein, amino acids and elastin do not help these structures.
Cleaning the skin:
The soap or cleansing agents are not harmful to the skin, but repeated washing using mudpack these agents leads to drying of the skin. It is advisable to people who wash their hands frequently that they should use minimum of soap and should use petroleum or some lubricant after each washing to minimize the drying. Facial massage, saunas, mudpacks, pore cleaning and facials help in temporarily improving the appearance of the skin but have no direct effects on the skin as such, though the person may feel very refreshed and psychologically good after the treatment.
Astringents, clarifiers, and masks:
Astringents or bracers are in products like after–shave lotions, which contain water and alcohol or witch hazel. As the alcohol evaporates it cools and the person feels refreshed. Astringents mixed with aluminum salts like alum are called refiners. Alum irritates the skin causing mild erythema and edema, which makes the face rosy and the pores look transiently smaller. The clarifiers are meant to act as keratolytic agents and may contain resorcinol or salicylates, and the cleansers contain some grains, which act as scrubbing agents. Facial masks contain absorbent clay or synthetic resin forming tight film on the face while drying, which produces mild irritation leading to mild erythema of the skin.