5 Things a Dermatologist Would Never Do

tanning bed ajar with the lights on

January 20, 2023

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Aaron Morgan, M.D.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and does a lot to protect us from the outside world. But despite its size and importance, it often gets overlooked. The health of our skin can impact our general health. “The biggest issue we see in dermatology is the increase in incidence of skin cancer,” says Aaron Morgan, M.D., a dermatologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

To that end, here are 5 things Dr. Morgan says he would never do:

1. Pick your skin

While it can be difficult, picking rashes, scabs or acne is not good for your skin. “Picking often leads to scarring, whereas if you treat it appropriately, you can be left without scars,” says Dr. Morgan. Picking can also open your skin and increase your risk of infection.

2. Smoke

Smoking is a health hazard in countless ways. “It’s also one of the worst things you can do to your skin,” Dr. Morgan says. Smoking can lead to dry and uneven skin as well as deep facial wrinkles. Skin diseases tend to affect smokers more, and smoking slows the body’s ability to recover, so cuts or scrapes to the skin generally take longer to heal.

3. Use tanning beds

While a tan appearance may be desirable, Dr. Morgan says, “there is undeniable evidence that tanning bed use significantly increases the risk for skin cancer and should always be avoided.”

4. Skip sun protection

Dr. Morgan says the higher the SPF, the better. Sunscreen should be reapplied based on how long you’re in the sun. Sprays are convenient and OK to use as long as they are applied liberally and rubbed in afterward.

“I recommend using a mineral-based sunscreen, such as zinc or titanium, as opposed to sunscreens that contain chemicals. We know that mineral-based options are safe and effective,” Dr. Morgan says. Currently, there isn’t enough data to know the long-term effect of chemical-based sunscreens.

In addition to sunscreen, Dr. Morgan suggests taking an umbrella to the beach; sitting in the shade outside; avoiding midday exposure; and wearing a hat, sunglasses and gloves when doing yard work.

5. Ignore skin growths or changes

Our bodies naturally change over time, but you should never ignore any new or changing skin growth. It might not be anything, but any changes need to be checked because, as Dr. Morgan says, “If you catch an issue early, it’s not as likely to be problematic.”

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

 
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