Aging skin can be a big concern for many of us. Dr. Glenn Keyes of Copeman Healthcare discusses why your skin ages and what you can do to keep your skin looking young, healthy and happy.
So first of all Dr. Keyes, why exactly does our skin age as we get older?
Well, the short answer is the clock only goes in one direction. Aging of the skin is a natural, inevitable process. But it’s affected by a few things including genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle choices, most especially sun exposure.
Why do some of us have skin that ages better than others?
Older people who have great skin probably weren’t Sun worshipers, and that is the number one cause of bad skin. You’ve probably seen some of those people sitting by the pool and they look like a catcher’s mitt. They have just had too much sun in their lives. Sun exposure is really important. But like I said, there are genetic factors and there are some products that can be used to help reduce some of the signs of ageing.
Can you offer any tips to keep your skin looking youthful?
Well, for most of us, our skin will age in a pretty similar manner throughout our lives. It doesn’t show up in our 20s but in our 30s, that’s when we start to see fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen then starts to decline and our skin starts to thin. These fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent throughout our 40s, 50s and 60s. That’s usually when we start to see things like a drier appearance or bags under the eyes. And then into the 70s and 80s it gets even thinner and you might see some bruising under the skin.
To combat that, the number one lifestyle thing would be sun exposure prevention and that’s not just sun screen, but wearing a wide brimmed hat if you are going to be out in the sun and limiting the times you are in when the sun is at its highest point. There are also factors with diet. There is some evidence that having a diet rich in antioxidants and staying well hydrated can help skin look more youthful.
You know, we have a neighbor who is just having a battle because she gets precancerous lesions. She did a lot of sun worshipping when she was younger – so is the damage done then?
Yes, and no. Most of what she is dealing with is probably from past sins. But that doesn’t mean that sun exposure now is not critical. So for her definitely, covering up it is very important. It will slow the progression of it but it won’t erase what happened in her youth. Making sure that she has a good relationship with her doctor who is doing regular skin checks and treatments to keep those from becoming cancerous, that’s very important.
You had a couple of things you wanted to address concerning skin cancer as well?
I would say to your listeners, if you think that you might have some precancerous spots on your body, your health practitioner can discuss treatments like liquid nitrogen or some of the new anti-cancer creams. If you have concerns about irregular molds or other skin issues make sure to have them looked at. I can’t stress this enough.
Just this past spring I had a middle aged man who I was seeing for some unrelated issues. It was a mental health thing, but he was having some physical symptoms. So I said let’s do a complete physical exam. I found a lesion on his back that I was quite concerned about. And he had said, “oh you know doc, I’ve had a couple of doctors looked at this and they said it was benign.” However, I still wasn’t comfortable with it. So I did the procedure to remove it a couple of days later and sent it to the hospital pathology lab and sure enough it was a melanoma. We caught it early enough that it hadn’t spread outside, but melanoma is sort of the bad boy of skin cancer. It’s the one with the highest risk of spread to other parts of the body.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a man come in and say oh my wife said I should look at this spot on my back. She has been bugging me about it for years. And it turns out to be something that’s definitely worth removing or biopsy. We should listen to our wives when they tell us about these spots.
So, any kind of mold that looks a little suspicious, irregular, or unusual?
Yes, anything that’s dark, irregularly shaped, if it’s changing then definitely have it looked at. Melanoma loves to hide on spots that we can’t see like the back and back of the legs. Good to have at least once a year a full skin checking. You can have every mole quickly looked at by your physician and sort of deemed whether it’s worth biopsy or not.
Is there anything that people can do to reverse skin aging?
Yes, like I said the secret to keeping your skin looking young and healthy is primarily lifestyle. So staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating an antioxidant rich diet can help. You could speak to a dietician at Copeman Healthcare for recommendations. Having an active lifestyle and using sun screen is great. And I did mention there are some products that contain retinoids, which can reduce some of the appearance of fine lines and some of the blemishes that come with ageing.
Well, Dr. Keyes, you mentioned you were happy to be at Copeman because there is preventative medicine going on at this place and you have given us some good tips and preventative tips as well as some coping tips as well. We appreciate that and look forward to talking to you next time.