September is the official National Skin Care Awareness Month, not to be confused with May which is the National Cancer Awareness month. This declaration is designed to help draw attention to skin health and care. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s important to take good care of it.

What can you do to protect and improve your skin? Here are our top 6 recommendations:

Visit your Dermatologist for a Skin Exam 

If you haven’t had a skin exam yet, we recommend you schedule one. Dermatologists are skin care doctors who have expertise in the care of normal skin, and in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair or nails. In addition, dermatologists are knowledgeable in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin (such as scars). Having a specialist look at moles and skin changes is very important. Dermatologists attend college and medical school, and then complete a residency, meaning they have a minimum of 12 to 14 years of advanced education and medical training. Experts disagree with how often you should visit a dermatologist for a skin check up but they do agree that you should do it more often if you have lighter skin and hair, have a family history of melanoma, if you’ve recently had a transplant, have experienced major sun damage or have numerous or unusual moles.

Self Examine 

It’s important to look at your skin about once a month to see if there has been any change. It can be challenging to see your back or the back of your legs so if there is a friend or family member that can help you’ll be sure not to miss anything. It’s recommended that you stand in front of a full length mirror with as little clothing on as possible. Be sure to check your forearms, palms, hands, soles of your feet, and in-between your toes. You should also check your scalp with a mirror. What should you be looking for? 

  1. Any changes too existing moles or skin color. 
  2. Melanoma is the most common skin cancer and you should look at your moles to be sure they are not asymmetrical, have raised borders, has various colors or is larger than 6 cm (roughly the size of a pencil eraser head).

Since 1 in 5 Americans get skin cancer the American Academy of Dermatology have outlines some tools for your self exam. 

Visit an Aesthetician

Typically there is a skin specialist in the dermatologist office or affiliated with it. Aesthetician training varies from state to state, but aestheticians typically take a one or two-year course that focus on skin care, facials, and noninvasive procedures. If you choose to go to a spa for treatment it is recommended that it be a medical spa. It’s important no matter where you go to be sure to check for a license. This will help you to confirm that your skin specialist is trained and certified. He or she will look at your skin and provide an honest evaluation of its condition and needs. If you have never done this before it’s a very helpful but potentially troubling visit. My esthetician showed me my skin damage in an ultraviolet light and it really rattled me. Even if you take good care of your skin, be prepared for a long list of skin needs and options for improvement. I’d advise you to listen to all of their insight and consider various treatments for anything your concerned or unhappy about. To be honest, you could do treatments 24/7, so its good to gather the details, costs, other and then make a decision.

Stay Hydrated

Skin holds 64% of the water in your body. Simply drinking 8 plus glasses of water a day can do wonders for your skin. Staying hydrated keeps your skin nourished, plump and helps foster a healthy glow. Another big benefit to drinking water is its ability to flush your system of toxins. The water keeps your skin clean, pushing out bacteria and reducing the risk of acne and other skin problems.

Continue with Sunscreen 

Sunscreen should be used year round. Don’t let the shorter days make you think you don’t need sunscreen. It’s worth it to research and find the perfect sunscreen for your skin since this should be a year-round staple. Broad spectrum, SPF is critical.

Pamper your Skin

Why not celebrate your skin this month? Try that face mask, get a facial or try adding beauty oil to your skin regime. The fall season is the perfect opportunity to give your skin some extra love, especially since you may have done some damage in the summer. The cooler weather can dry skin so moisturizing regularly is vital. As the weather evolves, September is the perfect month to evaluate your skin regime.

In summary, your skin is your largest organ so it’s important to check it, protect it and nurture it.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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