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Healthy Living

Skin Care

The (Sk)inside Story: A closer look
Care for your Skin Type
Your Skin Worries and Treatment
Skin Care at Home

The (Sk)inside Story: A closer look

The skin is the largest organ in the body and one of the most accessible - you can see it and feel it - which can hardly be said of the liver, for example. It is also one of the most interesting organs. It grows from within outwards and is constantly replacing itself.

How deep is skin deep?

The skin is composed of four layers. They are:

  • The outer, horny layer of dead cells
  • The living, growing epidermis
  • The dermis
  • The layer of subcutaneous fat, which varies in thickness in different parts of the body

Distinct from the skin itself but closely related to it in position and function are the sweat glands, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and nails.

What is the connection between the skin and blood circulation?

The skin's extremely rich blood supply is channeled mainly through tiny blood vessels called capillaries. If all the capillaries in the skins were to expand at the same time, they could absorb more than a third of all the blood circulating in the body. That is why we sometimes feel giddy after a hot bath. So much blood has been drawn into the capillaries as part of the process of temperature control that not enough is reaching the brain.

If the skin is injured, the edges of the wound will heal with a bridge of scar tissue. This is a primitive structure-thinner, more stretchy and less even than normal skin. As all healing is accompanied by an increase in blood supply to the site of injury, a new scar appears pinkish. This colour fades when healing is complete. Some people get such large, protruding scars that special treatment may be needed to remove the scar, while for others, the cuts may heal leaving scarcely a mark behind.

Why are some parts of the skin more sensitive?

The number of nerves and nerve endings in an area of the skin depends on the location. The most sensitive parts of the body including the fingertips, face, breasts and genital area, have so many sensitive nerve endings that it is impossible to prick anywhere into them without it being felt. On the back, by contrast, the nerve endings are fairly sparse and there may be as much as 4 cm between painful pin pricks.

Why are some people darker than others?

Melanin, produced by melanocytes in the body is responsible for the colour of the skin. Everyone, no matter what their skin colour, is born with the same number of melanocytes. What varies in every person is the melanocytes' ability to produce melanin. Pale-skinned people produce very little melanin, dark-skinned people produce more, and black-skinned people produce a great deal.

The function of the melanin is to act as a natural sunscreen. It filters off the harmful wavelengths of sunlight so that they cannot penetrate into and damage the deeper layers of the skin.

When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the melanocytes are stimulated to produce more melanin to screen off the ultraviolet radiation efficiently. As a result, the skin changes colour. Tanning is, therefore, the outcome of deliberately injuring the skin.

What are the functions of the skin?

The functions of the skin are:

  • To control the temperature of the body
  • To eliminate the waste
  • To form a barrier and an outer covering for the body
  • To produce vitamin D

Care for your Skin Type

Skin Type Identification
Oily Skin Has a shine
Dry Skin Looks dry and flaky and often feels taut
Combination Skin Oily in some parts of the face and dry in others

Skin types cannot be altered permanently but they can be kept temporarily in check with a suitable skin care routine. To discover your skin type, do the following:

  • Cleanse your face thoroughly.
  • Remove all traces of make-up, but do not tone or moisturise.
  • Leave the skin to settle for a few hours without cosmetics.
  • Examine it carefully in natural daylight, using a good mirror or a magnifying one.
Oily Skin

The main hallmark of an oily skin is an overall shine. The skin is often sallow and its texture may be coarse, the opening of the sebaceous glands, or pores, may be particularly noticeable. Oily skin tends to attract dirt and dust more readily than dry skin.

While it is often besieged with spots and blackheads at puberty, oily skin can be a blessing as the excess sebum helps to prevent the skin from drying out.


It benefits from water, so washing with ordinary soap or a wash off cleanser is ideal. After cleansing, remove excess oil with an astringent.

Dry Skin

The skin looks dry and sometimes flaky and often feels taut. Due to lack of protective sebum, it reacts to extreme weather conditions. It is less likely to develop pimples than oily skin but tends to become readily chapped or roughened in dry atmospheres.


All products used should be mild and toners should be alcohol free. A creamy cleanser should be used. It is essential to moisturise the face, throat and skin around the eyes.

Combination Skin

The most common skin type is a combination skin with an oily central panel of the zone embracing the forehead, nose and chin and areas of dryness on the cheeks, round the eyes and on the throat.


Wash the face with a gentle soap or a mild milky cleanser. Moisturise the dry areas often.

Refer Skin Care at Home for advice on the suitable facemasks for your skin.

Your Skin Worries and Treatment


Blackheads, small pustules with a tendency to develop deeper inflamed spots, are most common in puberty.


  • Wash at least three times a day with soap and water. Meticulous cleansing of the skin is required to de-fat the skin.
  • Use an anti-bacterial cleanser.
  • Obtain special medication from a doctor - do not use proprietary ones.


Brown patches on the skin, frequently on the face and neck.


  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Use sunscreen creams.
  • Eat food rich in Vitamin C.
  • Use cosmetic products containing glycolic acid and retinoic acid.
  • Chemical peeling using Alphahydroxy acids.


Moles are large collections of melanocytes in the skin. They may be flat or raised.


  • Remove by cosmetic surgery.
  • Visit a doctor immediately if the mole gets larger, itchy, inflamed, or swollen.


Vitiligo is the absence of pigmentation of the skin, usually seen as patches.


  • Protect from sunlight. Patches of vitiligo are very sensitive to sunlight and burn easily.
  • Consult a dermatologist.


Scars are formed usually as a result of injuries to the skin. They may be thick as in a keloid or may be depressed as in post acne or chicken pox.


For Scars

  • Carbondioxide Slush
  • Dermabrasion
  • Chemical Peel
  • Laser Resurfacing
For Keloids
  • Intralesional Steroids
  • Cryosurgery
  • Laser


Warts occur due to virus infection of the skin.


Visit a doctor for specific treatment.


Wrinkles appear due to thinning and folding of the skin, most commonly on the face. Around the eyes, it is called Crow's Feet and around the mouth, Laughter Lines. The tendency to develop wrinkles or to have a young-looking skin is inherited.


  • Creams and lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoic acid
  • Chemical Peeling
  • Laser Resurfacing

Skin Care at Home

The Home Facial

This involves cleaning, steaming, mask application and skin toning. The face should be cleaned thoroughly with make-up remover or lotion. Massage the lotion on to the skin for five minutes, then remove it gently with cotton wool.


  • Take a pot of boiling water and place it on a hot plate on a low table.
  • Sit in front of the steaming pot, take a large towel and make a tent over the head.
  • Hold the edge of the towel about 6 inches in front of the forehead.
  • Lean over the pot taking care not to get too close.
  • Pat the face dry after ten minutes.
Applying a Mask

You can use either a proprietary brand or a natural home - made one.

The Magic Egg Mask

The egg is one of the oldest known natural beauty products in existence. It is said that Cleopatra used egg white on her face as a mask.

Nourishing Face Mask

Mix 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon almond oil together, apply on the face and leave it on for 10-30 min. Cream may also be added to make it even more nutritious. Avoid the oil and cream if you have an oily skin.

This can be used every other day.

Egg and Yeast Mask

Mix 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon brewery yeast and 1 tablespoon sunflower oil together into a smooth paste and apply on the face. Leave for about 15 min, and rinse off with milk.

Masks for Oily Skin

Make a paste using Fuller's Earth and Rose Water. Apply on the face. Leave it on for 15 min and rinse off well. The Fuller's earth can be substituted with gram powder.

Skin Toners

Cucumber juice and honey are good skin toners.

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