Five tips for healthy skin

We all want to put our best face forward, right? A healthy complexion thanks to good skin care is one way to look your best. “Basic skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems,” says Benjamin Nesseim, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in Waukon.

The first two tips for healthy skin are perhaps the most well-known. Dr. Nesseim encourages patients to protect themselves from the sun and don’t smoke. Sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and increase the risk of skin cancer. For the most complete protection use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest and wear protective clothing. Smoking will deplete the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health and reduce its strength and elasticity making skin look older. If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit.

“It’s also important to treat your skin gently,” says Dr. Nesseim. He offers these suggestions so that daily cleansing and shaving don’t take a toll on your skin.

- Limit bath time and use warm rather than hot water. Long hot showers will remove oils from your skin.
- Avoid strong soaps that can also strip oil from your skin.
- Shave carefully using a shaving cream and a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction that hair grows, not against it.
- Gently pat or blot your skin after washing or bathing so that some moisture remains on your skin.
- Moisturize dry skin.

What you put into your body can also have an impact on the health of your skin, according to Dr. Nesseim. Many of the foods that promote good overall health are good for your skin, too, so eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. 

Antioxidant-rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin so consider adding more of these foods to your diet: carrots, apricots, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries, beans, salmon and other fatty fish, and nuts.

Lastly, managing your stress can help reduce acne breakouts and other skin problems. Dr. Nesseim recommends setting reasonable limits, scaling back your to-do list and making time to do things you enjoy.