Skin Care

Even healthy people occasionally have skin problems, and some of these are more common in women. Skin problems can range from mild to serious, so if a skin problem appears and you have any doubt about what it is or what has caused it, you should see your doctor, who may refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist).
Having a healthy lifestyle in general will keep your skin healthy, too. In addition to a good diet, plenty of exercise, and drinking plenty of water, there are also specific lifestyle choices that will help keep your skin looking good:
  • don't smoke - this ages your skin and encourages wrinkles.
  • although you should try to have some sun time a few minutes every day to promote vitamin D production, don't sunbathe or use tanning salons - high ultraviolet exposure ages skin and can cause skin cancer.
There are many causes for these symptoms, including:
  • infections - a boil or an abscess is an infection deep in the skin that causes a bump as tissues become inflamed and pus forms
  • allergies - an allergic reaction to something you have touched, or a drug you have taken can cause hives with bumps and/or itchiness as one of the symptoms (food allergies rarely cause rashes)
  • acne - caused by the blockage of skin oil within pores, which cause bacteria to build up and inflame the skin; although acne is commonly associated with teenagers, women often have acne later in life
  • eczema – also called dermatitis and is a general term for many types of skin inflammation. Eczema is not dangerous and is not contagious, however, most types cause red, swollen and itchy skin.
Irritated or swollen skin is a skin rash. Your skin might be red and itchy, bumpy, scaly, blistered or crusty.
Skin rashes can be caused by irritating substances, other diseases, allergies and your family genetics.
Treatment varies depending on the cause, but could include moisturizers or lotions, taking baths, cortisone creams to relieve swelling, and antihistamines to relieve itching.
Dry Skin
Dry skin is usually a mild condition, though occasionally it can be an indicator of a deeper problem. Most of the time it can be treated with lotions available over the counter. Causes of dry skin include:
  • dehydration - if you have dry skin, be sure you are drinking enough water
  • using too much soap or other skin products
  • sunburn
  • smoking
  • eczema - a general term for many types of skin inflammation
Dry skin is more common among African Americans.
Bruising occurs when there is tissue damage that breaks capillaries, so that small amounts of blood are leaking internally. The color changes in a bruise are due to your body clearing away the dead blood cells over time. 
There are multiple reasons why you might bruise easily:
diseases or conditions (such as cirrhosis of the liver, dengue fever or hemophilia)
aging skin
If you bruise easily and are unsure why, see your doctor.
Some people are just born with the tendency to sweat more, but if excessive sweating is a new problem, it may be caused by an underlying condition, such as:
  • hot flashes associated with menopause
  • infection
  • cancer  
Numbness, or loss of feeling or temperature sensation can be a neurological problem, caused by a variety of conditions. Some are temporary, such as frostbite, burns or an infection or disease such as syphillis. Others are longer term problems including:
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • herniated disc in the spine
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • stroke
  • multiple sclerosis
  • tumors
  • medications (such as cancer treatments)  
Cellulite is fat that is just under your skin surface, which makes it look dimpled. Cellulite can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle, but once formed it is permanent - even if you lose weight or have liposuction.
When skin stretches rapidly through weight gain or pregnancy, marks can be left even after it is no longer stretched. These are often pink, red, or brown. There is no known effective cellulite  treatment but stretch marks often fade with time.
Pregnancy-caused skin and hair changes are often unexpected because they are less well known than other symptoms of pregnancy.   Some women have no changes to their skin, while others will notice several changes, such as:
  • dark spots caused by an increase in pigment
  • stretch marks on your abdomen and/or breasts (see stretch marks)
  • thicker hair
  • nails that grow faster or break easily
  • appearance of small red "spider" veins on your upper body, or blue varicose veins on your legs (caused by pooling of blood)  
There are also more uncomfortable skin conditions that can occur with pregnancy, such as hives and itching, which should go away soon after you give birth. Also be aware of a more threatening condition called cholestasis which is a liver problem occurring only during pregnancy that causes severe itching on the palms and soles of feet. Be sure to see your doctor if you have that symptom while pregnant.
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