By: Mpilo Mahlangu
There’s just something quite invigorating about a new start. On one of the early Sundays of this year, I was sitting in church listening as God spoke a very powerful Word into our lives. My pastor was preaching about the importance of humbling yourself enough to walk to an altar where a man of God has been stationed by God so that God can cleanse your sin and deliver you from any remnant of ungodly spirit namely sickness, addiction etc. The scripture text concerned Naaman the leper, who had to let go of his pride and be cleansed in the River Jordan. 2 Kings5:14 explains, “So he (Naaman) went down and dipped seven times in Jordan according to the saying of the man of God and His flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean”. My pastor then playfully translated the ‘flesh of a little child’ to a ‘baby face’. In light of our theme this month, the latter term inspired me to discuss HEALTHY SKIN -A NEW FACE.
Healthy Skin! Among many other factors in one’s life good skin probably claims a respectable amount of votes as a self-confidence booster. When you have that smooth facial contour it makes you feel good. As does any positive bill of health. In this article I seek to define the term ‘Healthy Skin’, understand why skin is prone to bad manifestation (mainly acne and oily skin) as well as share some insight on how to better look after your skin.
The definition of healthy skin, perhaps in its true essence, refers to skin that is intact. The skins biological role is mainly to acts a barrier against infection, regulate body temperature, excrete waste amongst other functions. However the general definition (one I hold as well) is probably more inclined to pimple-free, shine-free and wrinkle-free skin as the ‘cosmetics of our society’ have sensitised us to.
It goes without saying that we all at some point in our lives have enjoyed beautiful ‘baby-face’ skin; we were after all once babies. Unfortunately, with most of us, when we reached the complex stage of puberty the health of our skin changed a bit. This change in most cases is physiological (normal bodily process). Puberty is characterised mainly by (i) increased growth, (ii) maturation of reproductive organs and sexual characteristics and (iii) increased hormonal secretion. The hormonal changes include increased secretion of Adrenal hormones (particularly DHEAS), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Growth Hormones (GH) Testosterone and Oestrogen.
The adrenal androgens are responsible for a process known as Adrenarche wherein manifests increased pubic and axillary hair, adult type body odour, bone growth and oily/shiny skin and hair. What concerns us most is the increased oil production because it causes pimple and undesired greasy skin. At puberty, the adrenal androgens increase the stimulation of a certain gland located at the base of hair follicles in the skin called the sebaceous gland. This gland is responsible for the secretion of a natural lubricant called sebum (the oil) hence the increased oiliness of skin. Consequently, the hair follicles become blocked and hardened with sebum and thus blackheads are formed on an adolescent’s face. This is in fact such a common form of Acne vulgularis (acne disease) that it often goes unnoticed in society. Once the pubertal stage is resolved the acne disappears.
However in some post-pubertal individuals a pathological (of disease state) change in sebum production can occur. Pathological acne vulgaris can manifest in older woman due to an underlying condition such as pregnancy (wherein excess androgens are produced), a disease called Polycystic Ovarian syndrome and Cushing Disease (wherein too much Cortisol is produced).
People whose skin is continually exposed to harsh physical conditions tend to develop acne. Such conditions include occupations substances (e.g., coal, tar, cutting oil), tropical climates, and adverse skin products.
A genetic predisposition to developing acne does exist in some individuals. Some families possess the gene(s) that lead to expression of acne.
Bacterial infection is also a suggested cause of acne. It is proposed that these microorganisms have the capacity of breaking down sebaceous oil which causes skin to react and result in acne.
Food is believed to have a very low association with acne. A healthy balanced diet should not affect your skin at all. A diet rich in glucose, fat, milk and chocolate might aggravate acne in some individuals. If you have identified foods that make you skin prone to developing food, its best to avoid them.
Some ‘Baby Face’ Tips I could share for the New Season:
1) Be mindful of your daily glucose ingestion and drink plenty of water
2) Wash your face at least twice a day.
Make sure you exfoliate the skin (this gets rid of dead cells).
Avoid using normal body soap as it can be too harsh for the face
Use luke warm water-avoid the extremes temperatures
Avoid scrubbing, this can block skin pores
3) Exercise regularly
4) Get enough sleep
5) Use a moisturiser daily
6) Consult a dermatologist for more tips.
Should you develop acne, the good news is that it is treatable. The best advice I can offer is to seek help from a Dermatologist! Acne can be successfully treated with anti-biotics and other medical interventions
I’m an advocate of assuming the reasonability of your own health and thus your own skin. As I often quote, ‘YOUR body is YOUR most intimate possession’. I personally can attest to better looking skin being a confidence booster. As for ‘flawless skin’, I think any further commentary might attract some contention from the modelling industry.
I appraise the truth that any physical attribute should not be one’s fundamental confidence. The Grace of Christ Should! I think if Naaman were here today, he also would agree that keeping to Christ, Him who is ‘more real than the skin on my bones’, offers the best GLOW ever imaginable.
1) ‘Robbinson and Cotran’ Pathological Basis of Disease’, Kumar,V. Abbas,K. Fausto, N and Aster.J, 2010, Saunders Elsevier, pg. 1197-1198
2) General and Systemic Pathology’, Underwood. Cross,S., 2009, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, pg. 708
3) ‘Science and the Skin”, Jarrett, A.1964,Englsih University Press, pg. 119
4) Acne Fact Sheet, University of California
5) Skin Care and Cosmetics, UK Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky