Dear Dr. Irwin, I have recently retired after being an RN in Iowa for 45 years – my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying caring for our infant grandson. We recently took a trip to Florida to celebrate and I had the time and space to really take a good look at my 66 year old body and face! I have fair skin with red hair and freckles, and recently had knee replacement surgery – I have noticed my arms and legs look older than I would like. A lifetime of sun damage and some poor leg circulation issues. I heard of your site and have been trying to educate myself more about skin care. I have devoted myself to caring for others I think to the detriment of self care, and I wonder if you could advise me how to move forward. I thank you in advance. Take care, Diane
Thank you for writing Diane. You are not alone on this as many of us, including me, took better care of the skin on our face than we did on the rest of us. Also, we can’t live in a cave and aren’t required to live in a burka, so our body skin has more damage! However, there’s a lot to do now to improve things.
Protect the skin on the body.
Every time we forget, or don’t want to bother protecting, those pesky UV rays damage skin cells and cell DNA. Skin has amazing repair functions built into it though. Therefore, it will start the repair process, if we give it a chance. Here’s what to think about:
- Most UV damage is done when we’re not really paying attention. So, the first thing is consistent mindfulness when we’re outside. Ideally, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before.
- For me, and many others, just putting on a high quality zinc (10-20%) sunscreen on the face, neck and chest area every morning is the first step after our basic skincare routine. I still hear patients say that they’ll put it on before they go outside, and then they forget.
- Protective clothing works better than sunscreen. There are tons of catalogs. I love the www.theseea.com swim tops with sleeves. If you cycle, wear cycling sleeves (yes…even if it’s hot. If I can do it, you can!). All hats are better than no hats. You can wear footless tights under your swimsuit if you snorkel. You all get the picture.
Repair skin on the body
Every year it seems like the technology gets safer and better for all sorts of skin problems. First thing is to really look at your skin. What is bothering you the most and in which areas? Write it down. Think SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.
For example, your list might look something like this:
- Forearms – blotchy/discolored sun damage and precancerous spots in past and skin looks creepy.
- Chest – brown spots and bumpy texture.
- Upper arms – skin too saggy and shoulders sun damaged.
So, please make your list as next week Part II will be about how to approach fixing your pain points.
Hope this helps!
Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD
Founder of SkinTour & MadisonMD Skincare
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!