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Signs of a damaged skin barrier

Not all parts of our bodies are exposed to the external environment evenly. While the rest of our body remains protected by clothing, our faces constantly bear the brunt of excessive sunlight, airborne pollutants and toxins on a daily basis. The skin barrier forms the topmost layer of the skin. It acts as the first line of defence between the deeper layers of your skin and the outdoor hazards. The skin barrier can weaken and eventually thin out when subjected to these harmful elements for prolonged durations. This would in turn lead to skin sensitivity and irritation.

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Once your skin barrier becomes weakened, you start to show symptoms of redness and itching. The skin becomes dry and is easily irritable. You feel as though your skin is extremely taut and it becomes sensitive to the smallest of external changes. The barrier also deteriorates with age. Some people are genetically inclined to have a bad skin barrier. As the outcome of a damaged skin barrier is often discomforting, it is important for you to take good care of your skin.

Factors Contributing to Skin Damage

Here, we talk about some of the things that we do which have an ill effect on our skin’s health. While some factors are out of our hand, most are in our control and we can get rid of them by taking proactive measures and healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Over-Exposure to Sun: This is the primary cause of skin damage by far. While a healthy amount of sunlight is required for our bodies to synthesize vitamin D, staying out on a sunny day for too long can cause long term damage on your skin due to the harmful ultraviolet radiation.

  • Extreme Weather:

    When your skin is subjected to bad weather conditions like scorching heat, biting cold and thunderstorms on a regular basis, the skin damages itself in the process of constantly trying to adapt to the weather conditions.

  • Environmental Pollution:

    All emissions from vehicles and factories have very fine suspended particulate matter that not only makes the skin look dark, but also damages the skin cells as well.

  • Smoking:

    It causes the blood vessels to narrow down which in turn reduces the blood flow to the skin. It is also known to damage the collagen in the skin.

  • Dehydration:

    Under consumption of water reduces the moisture levels in your skin. It becomes dry and prone to irritation.

  • Unhealthy Diet and Sedentary Lifestyle:

    Consumption of junk food containing high amounts of trans fats and omega 6 fatty acids leads to inflammation of skin and our state of inactivity weakens the skin’s function of repairing itself.

  • Stress:

    Elevated levels of stress leads to the production of a hormone called as Cortisol. This hormone is responsible for lowering the stress levels in the body. However, it also increases the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands. This increases the risk factors for acne, eczema and psoriasis significantly.

Effective ways to promote skin repair

In most cases, skin damage isn’t permanent. You can take active steps to reverse your skin’s condition and make it smooth, blemish free and healthy. Here are a few changes that you have to bring about in your routine

  • Keep your body hydrated:

    It is important to drink sufficient amounts of water to keep your skin cells healthy. It improves your body’s capability to flush out harmful toxins and bacteria from the skin.

  • Consumption of citrus fruits:

    Oranges and lemons are high in Vitamin C. It is known to reduce wrinkling by promoting the formation of collagen - a complex protein responsible for maintaining the skin’s shape and structure. Being an antioxidant, Vitamin C also reduces free radical damage inflicted on your skin.

  • Eating protein rich foods:

    Protein is also essential for the synthesis of collagen. It helps in maintaining a healthy level of skin elasticity to give you that youthful look that you desire.

  • Avoid using prescription strength products:

    Unless recommended by a dermatologist, using retinol based creams can cause side effects such as redness, itching, burning sensation, skin irritation and formation of scales on the skin. Try adding Vitamin A rich foods in your diet instead like carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and eggs.

  • Avoid using astringents and products with alcohol:

    Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and benzyl alcohol are used in astringents and as a preservative for skin creams. The alcohol in the cream helps in transporting the cream’s ingredients through the skin barrier. The alcohol in the astringents help in constricting the pores in your skin. However, these alcohols dry out the skin barrier and regular use can cause skin damage.

  • Use products that are rich in natural sources of antioxidants:

    Free radicals in the body are known to cause some serious damage to the skin. They break down collagen proteins and make your skin to sag. Skincare products, especially night repair creams that are rich in natural sources of antioxidants such as green tea, red grapes, blueberries, carrots, kale, etc. can effectively combat the oxidative stress exerted by the free radicals.

Skin damage can be a nightmare for some people to deal with. But by making a few positive changes in your daily routine and taking good care of your health, the damage can eventually be reversed. Share some of your secrets on maintaining your age defying looks with some of our younger readers in the comments section below!

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