Have you ever seen someone with undeniably great skin? Maybe you’ve even thought, “I wish I was lucky enough to have such a flawless complexion.” Although heredity certainly plays a role in skin condition, great skin takes diligence and discipline. And even a few bad habits can keep that beautiful complexion out of reach.
We often hear about obesity leading to heart disease, but we sometimes forget that it also negatively affects our skin. First, obesity contributes to the onset of Type II diabetes. Diabetes hinders the body in many ways, including causing the skin to heal poorly. With skin that won’t heal, infections and scarring become much more likely.
Also, rapid weight gain often creates stretch marks. Those scars won’t rub off with cocoa butter either. Stretch marks are the visible sign of permanent damage that only fades with laser treatments.
To make matters worse, folded areas of skin become susceptible to yeast infections, and skin tags pop up in places that rub together.
Plus, carrying extra weight is hard on your legs. As that weight impairs circulation, dermatitis – a red, itchy rash – may develop on your lower legs.
Smoking wreaks havoc on your skin as well. With this habit comes premature aging. Lines and wrinkles form not just around your frequently puckered lips, but on your entire body. As the carcinogens and chemicals in the tobacco rapidly age the skin, the skin becomes dull and thin.
Smoking keeps the skin from healing quickly too. Our skin is made to bounce back after an injury. Yet with regular smoking, wounds that used to be present for a short period of time take much longer to heal. Like diabetes, this leads to more severe scars and keeps wounds open to infection.
There’s also an increased risk of blood clots with smoking, especially for those on birth control pills. When exposed to nicotine, blood vessels narrow, which restricts blood flow and increases the risk of vascular diseases.
3. Sun Exposure
Tans are trendy. People love the look of bronze skin, but sun exposure brings an onslaught of skin problems. As with smoking, you’ll see your skin age more quickly and get that thin, dull appearance. You’ll also notice brown spots, premature wrinkles, and even skin cancer. In the short run, a tan looks great, but in the long run, you’ll regret the damage your skin suffers.
Instead, try self-tanners. Newer products won’t leave you orange, and you’ll get great cosmetic coverage without the risk of permanent skin damage.
We know stress raises our blood pressure, but we often ignore the way it heightens current skin conditions. If you have psoriasis, you’ll notice it’s worse with stress. If you are prone to hair loss or have Alopecia Areata, you’ll lose more hair during a stressful time. Even dormant acne flares up when life gets hectic (or exams hit!). If you battle rosacea, that too worsens with stress.
Sometimes people don’t even realize they’re stressed. So take this two ways. First, be prepared to treat your skin conditions. Have your rosacea creams and acne meds on hand when you expect a stressful time. If you’re up against a work deadline or see a presentation down the pike, be ready with your treatment. Then you can get through it without your skin causing trouble. Also, listen to your body. If a skin condition flares up, pay attention to what may be causing it. If you can tone down the stress, do so for the sake of your skin.
It’d be nice if we could just apply a magic ointment on our skin and live life however we want. But that’s just not realistic. Lifestyle choices affect our skin. Don’t let these avoidable conditions keep you from having great skin.
Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.
Learn more about Dr. Plott.