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(1) Skin Disorders

Introduction

Many people throughout the world are living well into their old age. A person’s physical, as well as psychological, well being is directly affected by his or her general health and the health of his or her skin. Most of us have at least one, if not three or four, skin conditions that can be treated or at least improved with good advice and action.

The skin is a magnificent organ. If you could look quite closely at each square inch of skin, you would find about 19 million cells, 90 oil glands, 600 sweat glands, 65 hairs, and tens of millions of microscopic bacteria, and each square inch is nourished and kept active by 19,000 nerve cells and 19 feet of miniscule blood vessels. All of this amazing collection helps to eliminate one third of the body’s waste products and toxins, regulates and maintains water balance and body temperature, uses touch receptors to help us sense pain and avoid harm, and forms a barrier to protect us from outside damage.

Clearly, you need to keep this marvelous organ at its best. More today than ever before, the aesthetic function of our skin has taken the forefront in modern media and our own perceptions. The multibillion dollar cosmetic industry has brought in wave after wave of new techniques and products and has filled our offices, magazines, and televisions with the promise of a forever youthful glow. This is an uphill battle, however, unless you have the right advice that can cut through the avalanche of information, keep up with the advancements, and capture and use what is important to you and your skin type. Although the constant turnover of skin cells allows for renewal and repair, the skin also keeps its own diary, and the cumulative changes show as we age.

I see many different skin conditions in the older person, and I believe that not enough attention is given to skin problems as we age. A delay in recognition leads to a delay in care of those problems. Also, in many areas, there is little access to specialists.

Albert Kligman, inventor of Retin-A®, wrote, “This traditional neglect of the skin is well-nigh unforgivable and has cruel consequences for the well being of the elderly. These diseases do not kill but they are persistent pestilences which spoil the quality of life. . . . It is the skin more than any other organ which most clearly reveals the cumulative losses which time prints on the visage of the high and low alike.”

Dr. Kligman also wrote, “The object of life is to die young, as late as possible,” and we now spend billions of dollars to try to reverse the effects of “TMB”-too many birthdays. Because there are an increasing number of options available to maintain your youth, it is important to know what medications, procedures, and daily activities will help.

The goal of this course is to provide a greater understanding of what happens in aging skin and to emphasize that you have enormous opportunities to improve your general and skin health by following what I have included.

For more help with your own skin care and comprehensive prevention and treatment, it is important to consult with your local dermatologist. 

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