It started off as a single red patch, like a ringworm… nothing that a little over-the-counter antifungal cream can't cure. Then suddenly, it was spreading like wild-fire all over my body. Panic stricken and utterly helpless I called dermatologist Dr. Marsha Barnett, who was more than happy to accommodate me at short notice.
If you are like me, visiting a dermatologist will only become a reality when you are afflicted with some malady, short of leprosy that your home remedy can't cure. When I sat down with Dr. Barnett, she in fact confirmed that the vast majority of patients are persons with skin conditions such as eczema, acne or a strange outbreak like the one I had experienced.
But there are many great reasons to see a dermatologist, especially if maintaining healthy, youthful skin is atop your list. Here are some great tips I got from Dr. Barnett:
Show me a bride who doesn't want to look flawless on her wedding day! Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful events you'll ever undertake. The weeks leading up to your wedding can wreak havoc on your face. I remember pimple after pimple uncontrollably popping up all over my face.
I tried all sorts of things including those very expensive facials and deep tissue massages from noted spas. Nothing worked. My biggest mistake was not consulting a dermatologist from early and by the time I got the memo it was too late to do much to resolve the problem.
If you are getting married you NEED a pre wedding regimen for your skin, especially your face. If you have acne, blotches, uneven skin tone or even the occasional pimple, visit your dermatologist for a consultation at least 3 months before your wedding.
This is recommended because you won't know what course of treatment may be required. So for example, a chemical peel which produces smoother, new skin may have side effects such as dryness and peeling for the first two weeks of treatment. You may even need more than one peel to get the desired results.
Dr. Barnett also pointed out that conditions such as acne and eczema take at least a month to clear up even while on medication. Even a simple task such as lightening dark spots takes time.
Remember that even with the best makeup artist, pimples will show and if you plan to film your wedding, I assure you HD cameras are dreadfully unforgiving. I have proof!
Run from the sun!
I remember in my early teens the sum total of my skin regimen was washing my face with soap (usually the same soap with which I showered) and if my skin was a bit dry then I’d apply some good old cocoa butter lotion. Later, I upgraded to brand name face cleansers, after which I would apply some face cream; that face cream was my mom's Nadinola and then I became obsessed with this pink cream (I can't remember the name) but it made my face oh so cool! It was only when I hit my 20’s that my face and skin care became a lot more sophisticated.
Dr. Barnett recommends paying special attention to your skin from your teen years but especially as you hit your 20s. The most important product on her list was sunscreen! Shocking huh? Well... I know we have all been laughing at the “bleachers” but they are on to something with avoiding the sun! Do your research and you will find as Dr. Barnett stated that the sun is the number one factor of skin aging. So no, sunscreen is not just for white people!
She suggested this exercise: Go look at an elderly person, your grandmother perhaps. Look at her tummy, legs or any part of her body that is always covered. Take note of how smooth and wrinkle free the covered area is. Now, look at her face. The only difference is the sun!
Sunscreen should therefore be a daily routine and it’s important to use one with a minimum SPF of 30. She also recommended using makeup which has SPF protection. If you are in the sun a lot, remember that sunscreen doesn't last all day so you will need to reapply it throughout the course of the day. If you are like me and sunscreen makes your skin oily, then experiment with the brands until you find one that's perfect for you. My favourite is currently from Proactiv.
Other Great tips for youthful skin:
- Drink lots of fluid, water especially
- Use soaps that do not dry the skin too much
- Apply a light moisturizer at both day and at nights
- Reduce your sugar and carbohydrate intake
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Cornmeal and egg whites are great to exfoliate the skin
- Green tea bags or caffeinated tea bags are useful for baggy under eyes and dark circles
- Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute for an astringent/toner
- Avocado and Vitamin C can both be used to help to improve the texture of your skin
So what about those areas other than the face?
Many of us have issues with darker skin (and sometimes bumps) between the thighs, on our elbows, underarms and bikini areas. Let's face it, we might all have been born with baby smooth bottoms but they don't all remain that way, hence the popular phrase “Her batty jaw black!”
Dr. Barnett stated that it is normal to have thicker or darker skin in these areas. However, in some instances this may be as a result of weight issues and can be treated with dieting, a change of lifestyle to include exercising in your routine, skin lightening products or a chemical peel.
So after sitting down with Dr. Barnett, I have picked up a few tips for beautiful healthy skin and needless to say, I look forward to future visits, hopefully for purely cosmetic reasons. And what of my strange affliction? Well, it turned out that it was partly stressed induced and was gone within a week, thanks to Dr. Barnett's expertise.
For more on general skin care and ways to keep your skin looking young and fresh from the inside and out, Dr. Barnett will be one of the speakers at the FERVIDA GIRL EXPO on Saturday, June 29 from 10a.m. - 7 p.m. For tickets call 575-6733 or visit Fervida page on Facebook.