Today marks the the start of Talkhealth’s week long clinic on skin problems. The skin is an amazing organ. The largest in the human body, providing a number of functions including protection from infection and water loss, insulation and temperature regulation, production of vitamin D , sensation to touch , temperature and pain and the ability to repair . In our society healthy skin tends to be associated with good general health. Conversely we tend to be very negative in our attitude towards people with skin problems.

People with light skin tend to want to look darker and hence the number of people who sunbathe or use other tanning methods. In certain societies people with darker skin strive to make their skin lighter using chemicals. Both of these practices are potentially extremely harmful.

In general terms beauty can be related to symmetry . The more symmetrical a person appears the more attractive they are. In addition there are characteristics associated with sexuality which make an individual appear more attractive. For example in a man a prominent brow and facial hair are seen in many societies as  attractive.  In a woman large lips, large eyes and a  large forehead and a small chin have the same effect.  Many people go to great lengths to enhance these features using cosmetic methods, ranging from the temporary to the surgical. In many societies appearances are  further enhanced by the use of tattoos or piercings.  Often these methods are an attempt to be part of a “tribe” and to seek acceptance from the group.

It is interesting that all of these attempts to make one more sexually attractive or socially acceptable carry great health risks. There is no doubting the association of sunbathing and sun beds with melanoma.  Tattoos  and piercings are associated with infection, including hepatitus B and HIV.  Cosmetic surgery again carries a risk of infection and possibly even death .Many of these procedures are carried out by poorly trained or even unqualified individuals.

It would seem we are very shallow to put so much emphasis on appearance. Equally how lacking we are as a society when it comes to accepting, supporting and helping sufferers of skin disease. Many skin problems are preventable, most can be treated or at least improved and for those individuals who need psychological help we must do more. Many organisations exist to offer support for various skin problems and I am pleased to see the British Society of Dermatologists also  offer information and online support.

I hope this weeks clinic is interesting and informative.


Dr Roger Goulds

Dr Roger Goulds has over 30 years experience as a General Practitioner in both the NHS and private sector. He has also worked in health screening and is very keen on early diagnosis and disease prevention. He has a special interest in sports and musculoskeletal medicine and works with professional sports men and women.

One Response to Is beauty only skin deep?

  1. Treating your skin with respect will help it flourish and glow. Every day we subject our skin to environmental pollutants, inadequate hydration and chemicals, especially those found in our water. Many skin problems stem from these and are difficult to treat as we are constantly exposed to them. To assist the skin we need to remove contaminants, understand the nature and preferred environment of the skin and nourish it with hydrating elements. Start by reducing chlorine in your water, this very effective disinfectant is great at supplying fresh clean water to your home, but once its there remove it a far as practically possible as its effects on the skin and respiratory system are not good. Carbon filters and KDF materials are good but don’t operate well at high temperatures and nobody really wants to take cold showers or baths, so go for a calcium sulfite hot water filter that lasts longer with less filter changes to remove and neutralize chlorine and chloramine from your bath or shower water, which both have a negative drying effect on the skin and does not aid healing. Water, the universal solvent needs to be pure and contaminant free. Secondly, understand that the skin has a pH of about 5.5 for the protective acid mantle to work at its best. Tap water is just above 7 pH generally and with the addition of alkaline soaps interferes with the pH balance of the acid mantle creating dryness and irritates general skin conditions. Adding apple cider vinegar is a great way to lower the pH of bathing water and has many benefits for the skin too as it works with the skins pH, rather than against it. Also look for pH balanced skin care products to help. And, then there is adequate hydration. Just imagine a plant that has not received adequate watering looks droopy and at worst dry, brittle and dead. Nourishing the body with ample good quality water benefits all organs including the skin. Drinking water should be contaminant free and alkaline to a degree to supply adequate hydration to the body and diuretics should be avoided as much as possible to help the body keeping well hydrated. You will notice how plump your skin is when you are well hydrated and pure drinking water is the best way to achieve this in adequate supply.

    I comment from personal experience here, as I have benefited from knowing how to use the water in my life, that has had remarkable results.

    on September 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm Nero Gilissen

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