Is Beauty Only Skin Deep? Here’s How to Keep It That Way!

Physical beauty may only be skin deep, but what exactly does it take to keep those many deep layers of skin looking healthy and smooth? A healthy glowing complexion exudes a sense of radiance, confidence, and happiness. If this doesn't describe the face you see in the mirror, or if keeping that face up to par is becoming a struggle, give some thought to how you treat the rest of your body, and the answer may become clear-along with your skin! The answer to typical questions about healthy skin involves two significant categories-what to avoid and what the skin needs.

The specifics to avoid are simple, although they do impose restrictions and require a bit of discipline on behalf of the seeker of rejuvenated and clear skin. They may in fact require some drastic lifestyle changes. Too much sun, dehydration, smoking, exposure to harsh detergents, and excessive fatty foods are the major indulgences that must be immediately removed from one's lifestyle. What the skin needs is likewise as simple. And it can all be found through eating a variety of foods rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, B vitamins, and Zinc.

Without these varieties of foods, the skin is prone to a variety of ailments-all of which are uncomfortable as well as unsightly. Although there are treatments and remedies, it is best to avoid experiencing these conditions at all.

Dermatitis occurs partially from such deficiencies, but also is prompted by exposure to some of the harsher products designed for facial cleansing. Allergies, long-term use of certain medications, and excessive nerves can also trigger symptoms of dermatitis. Dermatitis is the term used to describe an inflammation of the skin. The most common symptoms are blemishes, rash, burning, itching and dryness.

Atopic Dermatitis, more commonly known as Eczema, is another skin condition that is fairly common, although once again very uncomfortable. Most common in infants, children, and young adults, eczema is a chronic disease with flare-ups occurring seasonally, as well as caused by factors like stress, irritation from medicines, sweat retention, heat, excessive moisture, or excessive dryness. The symptoms of eczema include superficial inflammation of the skin, redness, edema, crusting, scaling, oozing and intense itching. The itching often leads to uncontrolled, and sometimes subconscious scratching of the affected area. This compounds the problem as it can cause the skin to thicken, developing flakiness, crustiness, and small cuts. These in turn can bleed and subsequently become infected.

Psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, although its cause is still unknown. A skin disorder borrowing its name from a Greek word meaning "itch", its symptoms include inflamed swollen skin lesions. These lesions are covered with scales that are silvery white. Researchers theorize that psoriasis develops initially through a trigger, such as an injury to the skin or a reaction to a certain medication. Nutritional factors, stress, and psychological factors also contribute to the onset. Psoriasis also accompanies other ailments, including asthma attacks and respiratory infections. Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of psoriasis associated with severe arthritis. Fortunately some patients experience spontaneous remissions of their psoriasis.

Now that these skin diseases, their symptoms, and some of their causes are clear (but not nearly as clear as your skin can be!), it is time to look at ways to combat and prevent such diseases, or to treat them should they occur.

Chemicals, age, and sun damage are typical causes of damaged or unhealthy looking skin. Antioxidants can help protect skin against this damage. A German dermatologist completed a lengthy study in 1998, and determined that people whose diets were high in antioxidants had a higher threshold for sunburn reaction.

The German researchers tested ultraviolet sensitivity in two groups of ten Caucasian individuals. They exposed a section of the skin on each subject to extensive UV light. One group of subjects took 2 grams of Vitamin C and 1000 IU of Vitamin E for 8 days. The second group did not. The tests were then performed again after the eight days. Those who had taken the vitamins showed increased tolerance to the UV rays. Ensuring a healthy level of Vitamins C and E is no means a substituted for sunblock. The study infers that these vitamins will help to maintain good looking and healthy skin far longer than those lacking in such vitamins.

Vitamin A is vital to many new treatments, and is also used in the cosmetic procedure known as skin peels. Skin peels remove the top layer of skin, revealing a layer of younger looking skin underneath. They are becoming an increasingly popular option, especially for women, in treating damaged skin. According to a 1997 report from the New England Journal of Medicine, creams and skin treatments containing the Vitamin A derivative tretinoin may also help in slowing the skin's aging process.

One of the causes of dermatitis is the body's deficiency of all of the B vitamins. Other skin conditions-even those as seemingly insignificant as moderate dryness-may be treated with Vitamin B as well.

Healthy skin needs an adequate intake of Zinc. Since Zinc is involved in the functioning of oil glands, local hormone activation, protein formation, wound healing, inflammation control, and tissue regeneration, it is imperative to keep levels up to par.

Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen. Collagen maintains the skin's elasticity, and loss of collagen is apparent in the aging process. An inadequate intake of Vitamin C may affect the appearance of the skin. Skin symptoms of a Vitamin C deficiency include small hemorrhages under the skin, as well as slow or poor healing of wounds. Vitamin C, when combined with Vitamin E has been known to improved conditions like pigmented contact dermatitis.

While it is always best to avoid foods high in fat, it is necessary to have essential fatty acids. These may be ingested as supplements, or are available in foods like some fish, which contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like potato chips and deep fried foods like French fries are the types of fatty foods most commonly recommended by dermatologists to avoid.

Many herbs are known to heal afflicted skin and prevent various diseases and signs of aging as well. Eczema and psoriasis have been treated using blood cleansing remedies and diuretics like figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), cleavers (Galium aparine), nettles (Urtica dioica), burdock (Arctium lappa), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and yellow dock (Rumex crispus). Oregon grape root, which is a liver herb, is often used to improve detoxification. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is generally recommended to not only reduce itching, but as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory as well. Nervine relaxants are used to help reduce stress, which is often related to an outbreak of eczema.

Of course prescription medications and treatments are available through a dermatologist or family physician to treat skin conditions, and attempt to attain and maintain clear and glowing skin. The fact of the matter is, the beauty that runs skin deep is maintained from far deeper origins than the skin. Shouldn't common sense prevail, lending itself to a thorough examination of the body's total dietary intake?

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