Skin care tips, conditions and treatments

Did you know our skin is the body’s biggest organ? And yet, when we think of skin care, we often only focus on our face. A radiant face is important, of course. But, healthy skin on our whole body is more important. Why? Because there are skin conditions out there that can pop up just about anywhere on our bodies. And when they do, it’s important to catch them early (and make sure it’s nothing serious) — or know when to see a dermatologist.

Common skin conditions

Find a weird rash or itchy patch of dry skin? Things like inflammation, changes in color and texture, and new spots could be from an infection, chronic skin condition, or allergies. There are lots of skin conditions — some that need a doctor’s attention and others totally innocent. Common skin conditions are often harmless (but may be annoying). Here’s a list of some of the most common adult skin conditions:1

Skin care basics

Everyone’s skin is different, but there are things we can all do to give our skin the TLC it needs to be healthy and age well.2

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen

A dark tan is like a kid’s meal. It’s all the rage when you’re young, but as you get older, you realize it may not be the best thing for you. Over the years, sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and may increase your risk for skin cancer. When you’re enjoying some vitamin D, be sure to follow best practices for sun protection: regularly apply sunscreen, take breaks in the shade and wear protective clothing.

Stay away from cigarettes

Smoking damages collagen and elastin (fibers that give skin its elasticity), making your skin look older.

Be gentle

We demand a lot from our skin and sometimes we’re pretty rough with it. Try shorter showers, mild soaps, a gentle pat to dry yourself and daily moisturizer. 

Hydrate, a lot

Water helps our bodies flush toxins and keeps the skin hydrated.

Eat for good skin

Certain foods, like dairy or sugar, could trigger a skin reaction (like acne). Knowing which foods to avoid and eating a nutritious diet could do wonders for you skin. 

Manage stress

Stress might throw off your hormones and cause acne breakouts or other skin problems. Learn more about managing stress.

Self-exams and when to see a dermatologist

It’s important to get in the habit of checking your skin every month for any unusual changes. After all, you know your body best. Catching a potentially serious skin condition early could make the treatment more effective. Keep an eye out for things like:3

  • A growth: One that’s gotten bigger and looks pearly, transparent, tan, brown, black or multicolored. 
  • A mole, birthmark, or brown spot: One that’s gotten bigger, thicker, or has changed color or texture. Or, one that’s bigger than a pencil eraser.  
  • A spot or sore: One that continuously itches, hurts, scabs or bleeds. Or, one that doesn’t heal within 3 weeks. 

If a skin condition covers more than 10% of your body, you notice one of the changes listed above, or have fever, muscle pain, or trouble swallowing, see a dermatologist right away.4 If skin cancer runs in your family, you may want to regularly see a dermatologist once a year or every six months to stay ahead of the game.

Who should I see if I’m concerned about my skin?

For most of the common conditions mentioned in this article, you can likely start with a visit to your primary care provider (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly exam). He or she can examine your skin and decide whether or not you should see a dermatologist.4 Be sure to mention any symptoms related to your skin condition. And if you’ve got concerns or a family history that’s important to note, speak up. Your doctor is there to help ease your worries —and any burning, itching, swelling, or discomfort you might also have.