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NHM Health Focus:
Healthy Skin

November 2009

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Skin Care
  - Skin Care (MayoClinic.com)
  - Hygiene of the Skin: When Is Clean Too Clean? (CDC)
  - Men Who Care About Their Skin Protect It (AAFP)
  - Prevent diabetes problems: Keep feet & skin healthy (NDIC)
  - Protecting and Taking Care of Your Skin (CCHS)

  - Cosmetics (Medlineplus, NLM)
  - Cosmetics (FDA)
  - Cosmetic Labeling and Label Claims (FDA)
  - An Employer's Guide to Skin Protection (CDC)
  - Gorgeous for Life (WebMD)

  - Choosing Skin Care Products (WebMD)

Skin Structure and Function
  - Biology of the Skin (Merck)
  - Anatomy and Histology of Normal Skin (LUC.SSOM )
  - Skin Structure (netdoctor.co.uk)
  - Skin, Hair, and Nails (Nemours)

Resources For Teens and Tweens
  - Your Skin (Nemours)
  - Taking Care of Your Skin (Nemours)
  - Under the Microscope (BAM, HHS)
  - How Smart Are You About Cosmetics (FDA)
  - Acne (UMHS)

Skin Conditions and Diseases
  - Skin, Hair, and Nails (MedlinePlus, NIH)
  - Skin Conditions (MedlinePlus, NIH)
  - Skin Conditions (SkinCare Campaign - UK)
  - Skin Cancer (National Cancer Institute)
  - Skin Cancers (BBC News)

Your skin is the first line of defense against invaders from the world of pathogens and disease. It encases your body, keeping disease agents on the outside and you inside. It cools you when you are too hot, and helps warm you when you are too cold. Its sensors alert you to changes in the world around you as you feel heat and cold, pressure and pain.

While your skin protects you, it is also a good idea for you to protect your skin. Skin can be damaged by the sun's rays (UVA and UVB rays), insects, poor diet, chemicals, smoking, and lack of exercise.

"Cancer of the skin is the most common of cancers, probably accounting for at least half of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths." (ACS).

To prevent skin cancer, stay out of the sun. Skin cancer is a largely preventable disease when sun protective practices and behaviors are consistently applied and used. Protective practices such as staying in the shade, wearing a shirt, pants or beach cover-up, wearing a hat, and using sunscreen help you to greatly reduce your chances of skin cancer (CDC). "A tan is the body's desperate attempt to protect itself from the sun's harmful rays" (AAFP).

Allergies, irritation and insect bites are other skin conditions over which you have some control.

  • Allergies: "Red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, swollen skin–any of these symptoms can signify an allergic skin condition. These skin problems are often caused by an immune system reaction, signifying an allergy " (AAAI).

  • Insect bites: Insect repellent helps keep insects away from you and reduces the chances that they will feast on you.

Recent research gives yet another reason to exercise. Exercise benefits your skin as well as the rest of your body (WebMD).

You will help keep your skin healthy if you stay out of the sun, exercise, eat healthy foods, avoid allergens and contact your doctor for advice when you have a persistent skin problem.

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to skin health:

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