By Rachel Herschenfeld, M.D.
TAKING GOOD CARE of your skin and hair
throughout your life is a key part of staying
healthy and looking good. The skin is the
largest single organ of the body, and it serves
many important functions: It protects the rest
of the body from the outside world, it senses
all kinds of information from the environment, it plays a key role in maintaining proper
body temperature and it processes vitamin D.
Hair serves a protective function, and it helps
to keep the body warm.
Anything that compromises the integrity
of your skin or hair can interfere with these
vital functions. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining an appropriate weight and exercising
regularly are essential to keeping your body in
shape. You need to take similar steps to keep
your skin and hair in shape. At all ages the
skin should be properly cleansed and moisturized, kept free from harmful chemicals and
dangerous infections, and protected from
injuries such as cuts, bruises, burns and sunburns. Hair also needs to be cleansed properly, and should be protected from damage
such as overprocessing.
During aging, the body changes in ways
that bring up additional concerns at different
points in life. Changes in the skin and the hair,
such as increased dryness, uneven pigmentation and wrinkling of the skin and graying of
the hair, take place no matter how well you care
for yourself. Other skin and hair problems that
commonly arise at specific ages include acne,
rosacea, hair loss and skin cancer.
Here’s a guide to common hair and skin
issues throughout life.
Taking care of your
outer layer throughout
your life is important to
your looks, and to your
medications such as Retin-A, benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics. Stubborn acne may
require oral medications.
The teenage and young adult years are
also critical for establishing good habits to
prevent skin damage that can lead to skin
cancer and premature aging changes later in
life. Consistent use of sunscreen with an SPF
of 30 or higher, wearing protective clothing
(including hats and clothing made of UV-blocking fabric) and avoiding too much sun
exposure will pay off in the future.
of medications such as Retin-A or Tazorac,
along with cleansers and moisturizers that
contain glycolic or salicylic acid, because they
can help both acne and aging changes.
Teens and 20s
This is a time of huge changes in the skin
and hair. As children grow into adults their
hair becomes thicker and oilier and may
require washing more frequently. Frequent
cleansing of the skin also becomes more
important, but even proper cleansing won’t
solve the biggest challenge for many teens and
young adults: acne. Acne affects 70 to 80 percent of teenage girls, usually on the face. It
affects 80 to 90 percent of teenage boys, who
are more likely to have pimples on the chest
and back. Acne has nothing to do with skin
not being clean, and in many cases can be
safely and effectively treated with topical
34 The Costco Connection JANUARY 2009
30s and 40s
This can be a tough time for men, because
many start to notice their hair is thinning.
Androgenetic alopecia, the most common
form of hair thinning, is found in about 30
percent of men by age 30, and in 50 percent of
men by age 50. Although hair loss is not dangerous to one’s health, it can be very distressing. Luckily, there are effective treatments,
including topically applied Rogaine and an
oral medication called Propecia.
Women may notice hair thinning at this
time as well. For women with androgenetic
alopecia, the hair loss is more diffuse than it is
for men. It can also be treated with Rogaine.
Women frequently experience another type
of hair loss, called telogen effluvium, which
can occur with hormonal shifts such as starting or stopping birth control pills, after pregnancy or after a serious illness or surgery.
Adult acne is a real challenge for women
in this age group, but men do not suffer from
it as frequently. Many women in their 30s and
40s also start to notice aging changes in their
skin, including pigment irregularity, fine lines
and wrinkles, and loss of elasticity. Many
women in this age group benefit from the use
50s and 60s
Rosacea is a problem for many people in
their 50s and 60s, and is found more frequently
in women than in men. People with rosacea
have redness and pimples on the face, and they
flush in response to triggers such as caffeine,
wine, exercise and strong emotions. One challenge in treating rosacea is that different treatments are effective for different aspects of the
problem: Antibiotics can help the pimples,
laser can treat much of the redness and avoiding triggers can help the flushing.
Many men and women in this age group
also develop precancerous spots called actinic
keratoses. Actinic keratoses are small rough
bumps that are often easier to feel than to see.
They are more common in areas that get the
most sun exposure: on the face and hands.
For men with thinning hair, these spots can
also appear on the scalp.
One type of eczema, called nummular
dermatitis, is often found in adults in their
50s and 60s. Dry skin and round, red flaky
spots develop on the trunk or limbs and are
often very itchy. The most effective treatment is a combination of moisturizers and
The Costco Connection
Members of all ages will find products
available at Costco that can help them
with their changing skin and hair needs.