Take Care of Your Birthday Suit

6/8/2017

Your skin. We often call it (affectionately, of course) your birthday suit. It's your body's largest organ, weighing in at roughly eight pounds and covering about 22 square feet. Your skin serves many life-sustaining functions, including protecting you from the outside world and maintaining your body temperature. Each square inch of skin contains millions of nerves that allow you feel touch, pain and pressure.

Many skin changes are just a normal part of the aging process. However, others can signal health problems. It pays to know what is normal and what is not.

Normal signs of aging
As you age, your skin becomes thinner and more brittle. It loses strength and elasticity. Because the skin produces less oil, it becomes drier, leading to wrinkles and tiny lines. You may develop new skin growths or pigment spots, especially in sun-exposed areas. Tiny blood vessels in the skin become more fragile, so you may experience bruising or bleeding under the skin.

Warning signs
Unexplained skin changes can be a sign of skin cancer or some other illness. Become familiar with YOUR skin so you can recognize potential warning signs.

  • Learn where your moles are and what they look and feel like. 
  • Be alert for new moles (especially if they look different from your other moles).
  • Notice any changes in existing moles or recent skin abnormalities, such as a raised flaky patch, a sore that does not heal or a new, flesh-colored, firm bump.
These changes may indicate skin cancer. Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it's also easily treatable if caught early.

Other unrelated diseases can also cause skin changes, especially as you age. In fact, about 90 percent of older people have some type of skin disease due to an underlying illness, such as heart or liver disease or diabetes, according to the National Library of Medicine. Poor nutrition, obesity and stress can also change your skin.

Protect Yourself
You only get one birthday suit, so take care of it. Click here to learn tips to prevent damage, premature aging or cancers of the skin.

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