How many times have you heard how important first impressions are? People will tell you when you first meet someone new, the individual decides within the first few minutes of the initial encounter whether or not you are someone he/she would like to: befriend, hire, become lovers with, or avoid at all costs. As these preliminary meetings are not generally the most comfortable of situations and most people aren’t able to convey the essence of their true selves, the decision made by the other individual concerning your noteworthiness will be significantly affected by your appearance. Though your clothes, your hair, and maybe even the car you arrived in (if applicable) do play a part in the determination, it is your skin than speaks the loudest.

Skin can tell other people quite a bit about you. Beautiful and healthy skin gives the impression of vitality and a person whom takes care of themselves. Unfortunately, if your skin’s appearance is less than optimal the conclusion the viewer will draw will probably not be favorable. Poor skin health could give the impression of apathy, an unhealthy lifestyle, and poor hygiene. Recognizing the signs of poor skin health and taking the necessary steps to treat and cure the problem could make a difference in the first impression made by the other party concerning you.

1. Blotchiness and/or uneven texture. Your skin is one of the best indications of internal health. If your body is overtired, dehydrated, or malnourished, your skin will suffer and announce it to the world with blotchy coloring and uneven texture to your skin. The evidence will be stamped on your face and any other area of exposed skin for all to read. So what can you do?

First and foremost, get enough rest. Most people sacrifice sleep for what is believed to be more important activities. No activity should replace sleep. Without proper rest your body cannot function properly. Your skin will suffer. That is why they call it beauty rest. Lack of sleep will cause dark circles under your eyes, a lack of luster in your skin, and dreariness in your complexion.

Your skin health, like the rest of your body, relies on nourishment for optimal appearance. If you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals through your diet, your skin will report this deficiency to all you meet. Vitamin supplements can help ensure your skin is properly treated. Topical creams can also infuse your skin with vital nutrients. Water is an essential element to all facets of your health. A lack of hydration will make a significant impact on your skin. Your complexion will appear dry and flakey in some spots. Feeding your skin will even out both the texture and color in your complexion.

2. Acne.   It probably comes as no surprise that acne is indicative of unhealthy skin. Acne is caused by a few different possible scenarios. A build up of bacteria can cause your skin to break out with pimples, zits, and various other blemishes. The overproduction of oil and the irregular shedding of dead skin cells also cause acne. Acne can be a few zits or could cover your entire face and/or body. It is a devastating condition mentally. The struggle to feel good about yourself while facing the world with pimply skin can take heroic efforts that often leave the sufferers with self esteem and confidence issues. And to add insult to injury, these outbreaks can cause permanent scars on the skin.

Though acne sufferers may feel as if there is no relief, there are many treatments available to rid your skin of this affliction. Topical treatments are popular and plentiful. You can use over the counter lotions and creams. These usually contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These are most often used for mild forms of acne. For more serious acne outbreaks, a prescription cream might be necessary. These can only be ordered by a doctor and work by killing bacteria while promoting faster cell turnover. Antibiotics are another common treatment usually ordered by a doctor. This is usually used to treat more serious cases of acne. The medicine is generally used in conjunction with the topical ointments.

Other treatments include the controversial drug Accutane, oral contraceptives, cosmetic procedures, and laser/light therapy. Accutane is an extremely powerful drug that must be used only under a doctor’s supervision. It has been known to cause extreme side effects. The medicine is said to be extremely effective and is often purchased through other avenues without the benefit of a doctor’s regulation. Oral contraceptives have been proven to effectively treat acne and improve the skins’ appearance. Cosmetic procedures are an extreme answer to the problem but have also produced amazing results. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are the most noteworthy and have been proven to effectively reverse the damage caused by acne. Laser and light therapies attack the oil glands that cause the acne to occur. These procedures have also effectively reduced the appearance of acne scars.

3. Dark spots. Dark spots on the skin generally begin to emerge around middle age. This condition is also known as hyper pigmentation. There are several causes of hyper pigmentation. Skin is sensitive to trauma which can result in the occurrence of a dark spot on the skin. Medication has also been known to cause dark spots. Estrogen is one medicine that has caused this condition to occur. UV light is one of the main causes of dark spots on the skin. If you are spending time in tanning beds to enhance your beauty, think of the irony that the same act you are performing to do so will eventually lead to permanent skin damage effectively defeating the purpose.

Dark spots can also be indicative existing medical conditions. Liver disease will cause dark spots on the skin. Pituitary tumors are another medical cause of dark spots. Hemachromatosis and Addison’s disease are two other conditions that can cause dark spots. These conditions should be treated by a medical doctor.

As is true of most other conditions, prevention is much easier than trying to ‘cure’ dark spots. Avoid direct and prolonged exposure to the sun without sunscreen. The same goes for ultraviolet light. Try not to spend too much time allowing uv light to damage your skin and eventually mark it with dark spots. If it is already too late to prevent the dark spots, there are some methods to treat them. Bleaching medications containing mild steroids and retinoid have been proven to reduce the appearance. These medications are only available with a prescription, though.

There are alternative treatments that have proven more effective than medication in eliminating dark spots. Laser therapy destroys the melanocytes that cause the dark color. Laser therapy requires several sessions, has some side effects, and can be expensive. But the treatment is effective and will not damage the skin. Cryotherapy, or freezing the skin, is also used to eliminate dark spots. The procedure will use liquid nitrogen to destroy the dark pigment, but can cause some discoloration of the skin.

4. Flaky scaly skin: Having white flakes peeling and falling from your face and/or body is not only unattractive, but it can be a sign of other conditions. Your skin is most vulnerable to environmental factors as it is the organ of your body most often exposed to them. The weather can wreak havoc on your skin, causing it to become dry and flakey. Extreme weather conditions will prompt people to react by turning on the heat or air, obviously depending on the time of year. The reduction in humidity caused by the manufactured air will also cause dryness in the skin. Your skin needs to stay moisturized to prevent dryness.

Though dry skin in and of itself is not necessarily a devastating condition, the appearance of dry skin can be unsightly. Healthy skin is not usually dry and flakey. Additionally, dry skin can be a sign of more serious underlying conditions such as thyroid disorders and psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that is characterized by a buildup of rough, dry, skin that appears white, red, and extremely scaly. Affected areas can crack and bleed and are usually sore and itchy. Psoriasis can wreak havoc on your skin. Hypothyroid disorder affects the activity of the oil and sweat glands making your skin dry and rough.

Most dry skin conditions are not symptoms of more serious health conditions. But dry skin should be treated to keep it healthy and prevent skin infections. Keep your skin hydrated. Use moisturizer on your skin to restore it. Protect your skin from the elements by keeping it covered and hidden from the sun and from the bite of freezing conditions. If you suspect your dry skin is hinting of a more serious health disorder, a trip to your primary care doctor or the dermatologist could put your mind at ease or put you on the path to recovery if it does prove to mean something more.

5. Chapped lips. As strange as it may sound, lips are also skin. The skin on your lips is actually the most vulnerable to the elements and dehydration as this skin is the thinnest on your entire body. This sensitive skin can crack and bleed if not properly cared for. Your lips can become inflamed and sore if chapped and left untreated. Chapped lips may even burn if not corrected. As the lips cannot moisturize themselves as skin on other parts of your body does with oil, your lips can dry out without proper hydration.

One of the most visible signs of dehydration is dry chapped lips. If you are not drinking enough fluids, your body cannot maintain the proper moisture level in your lips to keep them soft and smooth. A lack of fluids will cause your lips to crack and chap. If you notice your lips becoming too dry, drink some water. You should be able to cure the chapped lip problem permanently. If the chapped lips are causing your discomfort, then you may need to apply a topical lip moisturizer to find relief. Chap sticks, petroleum jelly, and medicated ointments are popular and effective.

There are many other causes of chapped lips. Smoking can cause your lips to become dry. The best solution is to quit, but if you are not ready to take that step you will need to moisturize your lips after each cigarette. Biting or licking your lips will also exacerbate a dry chapped lips problem. Avoid licking your lips as much as you can, even when they are uncomfortably dry. Try to carry a moisturizing and protective chapped stick with you. You should also exfoliate the dry dead skin from the lips. You can use a soft toothbrush or a washcloth to do this.

6. Wrinkles. Though it is true that you cannot completely avoid the signs of aging, you can prevent the premature appearance of it. Wrinkles are the byproduct of aging caused by the natural aging process. Your skin cells begin to divide slower as you age. The slowing of the process results in thin skin. The elastin and collagen which holds your skin taunt begin to loosen. The loosening eventually leads to a layering of the skin as the skin loses elasticity and is less efficient in moisturizing and maintaining moisture.

As depressing and inevitable as the aging process sounds, it can be slowed and to some degree controlled. Wrinkles are the product of a less efficient body function. You can delay the process by caring for and protecting your skin. Smoking causes wrinkles. If nothing else has convinced you to quit, your vanity should. Smoking will cause premature wrinkles, so stop smoking! Sun exposure is another principal cause of premature skin aging. Protect your skin with sunscreen. Chronic or excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to wrinkling as it robs your body of hydration and slows many of the body processes as your body focuses on metabolizing the alcohol.

At some point you may have concluded it is too late to prevent what has already occurred. Once your skin is already wrinkled, you can only attempt to treat the condition. Fortunately over the last decade many scientific breakthroughs have made the process more affordable, successful, and easier to achieve. Fine lines and wrinkles can be treated with over the counter creams and lotions infused with many of the nutrients the body needs to regenerate younger and healthier skin. Dermabrasion can be done at home with new kits sold in many stores. The process scrapes away layers of damaged skin allowing younger fresher layers to emerge. This process can also be done professionally in many salons.

Some treatments must be done by trained professionals. Chemical peels have been effective in dissolving the layers of damaged skin to reveal the younger looking skin beneath. Individuals who want more drastic results or may require more drastic measures can look towards laser treatments or botox injections. Both have been shown to drastically improve the appearance of the skin.

7. Rosacea. This skin condition is generally referred to as adult acne. Though it is labeled as such, it is not similar to standard acne. Where acne is characterized by various forms of pimples, zits, and blemishes Rosacea is comprised mainly of small red bumps that cannot be squeezed to release the contents. These red bumps give the sufferer the appearance of a blush across their skin; but without the attractive subtlety. The red or pink color is usually found on the forehead, cheek area and sometimes on the chin.

Rosacea assails adults from ages 30 to 50 and is not sex specific. Both men and women are vulnerable to the condition. Though women seem to be the most prevalently afflicted, men tend to have more severe cases. Rosacea is normally seen in individuals with fair skin. The causes of rosacea are still being determined. Genetics are believed to play a role. It is also possible that sun exposure could cause it if you are genetically predisposed. Some experts now believe a mite found in hair follicles could also be responsible. Some discussion has also attributed Rosacea to bacteria, medications and even gastrointestinal conditions.

Though there is currently no known cure for rosacea, the condition that causes inflammation and redness in the face can be treated. Oral antibiotics can be used. The doses are generally too small to effectively kill bacteria that cause infections, but the anti-inflammatory property of antibiotics has proven to lessen the appearance of rosacea on the skin. Topical creams are another treatment method. The application of topical creams containing either metronidazole or azelaic acid has been proven to significantly reduce the redness and bumps from rosacea. As with acne sufferers, chemical peels, laser treatments and accutain have been successful in alleviating the symptoms.

8. Moles. These colored, raised areas visible on the skin have been referred to by some as beauty marks. But these marks can be indicative of something very ugly. Skin cancer is generally discovered by the appearance of these tiny visible tumors on the skin. These tumors are often discounted as harmless moles by many people. The moles can display many different characteristics. They may appear as a raised reddish spot that can have an almost pearl like color. Other types of moles that could also be signs of skin cancer can display a range of colors. They are irregular in shape with asymmetrical edges. Moles that grow or change in appearance are also typical signs of skin cancer.

An explanation of the cause of skin cancer is probably not necessary. Unprotected exposure to the sun’s dangerous rays will lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer targets without discrimination, irregardless of age or sex. The most important factor in limiting your risk of developing skin cancer is prevention. Prevention comes in the form of constant protection. You should apply sunscreen to your skin daily. Sunscreen should not be limited to only the days you will be at the beach or laying out by the pool. Sunscreen should be part of your skin care routine every morning all 365 days of the year.

Everyone should be screened for skin cancer. Ask your doctor when he/she would recommend the screening and how often. A person whose skin has moles should definitely by screened. The more moles you have on your skin, the more often you should get checked. The emergence of new moles can be indicative of skin cancer. Skin cancer is treatable and even curable if found early enough. But if you wait to long to find out, the cancer could spread throughout your body reducing your chances of survival.

9. Warts. Besides being unsightly in appearance, warts are a contagious condition alerting to the presence of infection. Warts are caused by a viral infection known as human papillomavirus or HPV. Though HPV is most commonly associated with a sexually transmitted disease causing a variety of conditions in the infected person, HPV can also cause common warts. Common warts usually appear on the back of knees, fingers, and toes. Some types of common warts have been known to cause some physical discomfort, but aren’t generally uncomfortable enough to be described as painful.

Common warts can be treated a few ways. There are several over the counter treatments that have proven effective in eliminating warts. Most over the counter methods utilize salicylic acid. Salicylic acid can be administered by smearing a gel or liquid drop on the affected skin. Some products provide a pad or plasters soaked in salicylic acid which can be placed on the skin. The salicylic acid then dissolves the protein which makes up the wart. Freezing methods have also become a popular over the counter technique to eliminate warts. An aerosol spray emits a chemical similar to liquid nitrogen which ‘burns’ off the wart. This method is usually a quicker cure than the lengthier salicylic acid application system. A less common but reputed effective method is duct tape. Applying duct tap over the wart and leaving it on at all times until the wart is suffocated will eliminate the unsightly blemish. But the tape cannot be removed from the affected skin more than a few hours only once per week. Guess it’s true what they say; duct tape really can do everything.

10. Rashes. Though it may seem ridiculous to have to point it out, a rash is a sign the skin may require treatment. Skin rashes can be indicative of serious medical illnesses or a reaction to an allergen or a strong product. Rashes can be nothing more than scaly patches on the skin. Or a rash can be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection. Rashes can be completely painless and irritant free. Or it can cause burning, itching, and/or pain.

If you find yourself afflicted with a rash of which the origin is unknown, it is probably a good idea to contact your doctor. The doctor will be able to diagnose the cause and advise on proper treatment. Sometimes you can treat the rash yourself with over the counter methods available. You may even be able to wait out the rash and it could disappear without treatment or a consultation with your doctor. But if it doesn’t disappear within a few days or is accompanied by other symptoms it is important to contact a health care professional.

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