Jessica Meyers, a physician assistant with Sharp Rees-Stealy
, answers questions about skin maintenance and care that comes with aging.
What is the most important skin care consideration?
Protect yourself from the sun. Avoid being outdoors when the sun is strongest — between 10 am and 2 pm — and apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher daily. Don’t stop at just the face; remember to apply to exposed areas of the arms and hands even if you aren’t planning on being outdoors for an extended period of time. The cumulative sun exposure from just driving around and going in and out of buildings throughout the day can add up to a significant amount over the years, leading to damaging skin changes. By consistently using sunscreen to protect skin from the sun, you lessen your likelihood of developing skin cancer, “sun spots” and wrinkles.
How often should I wash my face and what cleanser should I use?
Wash your face twice daily with warm water and a gentle cleanser. If you are still using the same face wash that you did as a teen, it is likely the wrong product if you’re approaching middle age. Products designed for acne-prone skin with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be too harsh for the skin once acne has resolved and can dry out or irritate the face.
How can I reduce the signs of aging on my face?
One of the big changes in our skin as we age is decreased oil production, which leads to dry skin. Use a daily moisturizer with sunscreen during the day and a hydrating night cream each evening to keep the skin soft and moisturized. Night creams that include retinol can also help to decrease the fine lines of the skin. If you have dark spots from years of sun exposure, ingredients such as vitamin C, soy and licorice extract can help to lighten the pigmented areas for an overall brighter and more even complexion. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to give you the results you are looking for, ask your dermatologist about prescription products and laser treatments, which may be an option for you.
Do the foods I eat really affect my skin?
Yes. In fact, nutrition is routinely overlooked as part of a good skin routine. Eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruit, plenty of lean protein and omega-3 fats (found in foods like fish and walnuts). By maintaining a healthy diet, you give your body the essential nutrients to build and maintain healthy skin cells. Dietary omega-3 fats, in particular, can help protect against and repair some sun damage while also decreasing inflammation, which is a key player in many skin conditions such as acne, eczema and the natural aging process.
Any other tips?
While a good skin care routine is essential in maintaining your complexion as you age, don’t skip your annual skin exam. The doctors and physician assistants at Sharp Rees-Stealy can identify your individual skin needs and develop a personalized treatment plan to keep your skin healthy and looking its best throughout your life.
For More Information
To schedule a dermatology appointment, a referral is needed from your primary care doctor if you have an HMO plan. For help choosing a Sharp Rees-Stealy doctor who is right for you, call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, or search for a San Diego dermatologist.
About the Expert
Jessica Meyers is a certified physician assistant with the dermatology department at Sharp Rees-Stealy at Scripps Ranch.