Keeping your skin safe

Local dermatologists share tips for keeping skin healthy

Story by Ginny Cooper McCarley

Nothing screams summer in Alabama like long days in the scorching sun, swimming in the lake or laying by the pool. But, what is it doing to your skin?

For Dr. Gregory Bourgeois, a dermatologist at Shelby Dermatology in Alabaster, sun protection and moisturization are of paramount importance in a proactive skincare regimen.

“Those are your (two) big, big things,” Bourgeois said.

Protecting your skin from the sun requires more than just lathering on sunscreen: Sun protective clothing, a good hat, and topical antioxidants such as vitamin C and E serums are also important.

Topical antioxidants also protect against other skin-damaging factors, such as smoking and pollution, Bourgeois said.

Age is a defining factor in how you take care of your skin, and Dr. Rayna Dyck, a dermatologist at Skin Wellness Center of Alabama, has tips for all age groups.

“For young children, I recommend gentle, fragrance-free soaps and cleansers,” Dyck said, adding that a liberal application of moisturizers after bathing is also important for children.

During teenage years, Dyck advices monitoring acne by using over-the-counter products, or seeing a dermatologist for other options.

“Acne is not simply a ‘cosmetic’ concern,” Dyck warns. “If left untreated, it can lead to pigmentary changes and permanent scarring.”

Dyck also exhorts against indoor tanning, which has been proved to increase the risk of skin cancer and cause premature aging of the skin.

For adults in their 20s and 30s, Dyck advises a good basic skincare regimen including that includes a cleanser, a moisturizer, a retinol or retinoid product and sunscreen.

For women in their 30s and 40s, cosmetic treatments such as Botox, fillers, and lasers can help combat signs of aging.

“As a dermatologist, I really enjoy helping patients sort out their concerns and come up with a good at-home regimen complemented by appropriate in-office cosmetic procedures,” Dyck said.

Though it takes time for skin to accumulate damage, many people opt to see a dermatologist early to work on preventive care, check troublesome moles, or monitor other concerns.

“We start seeing patients at age zero and see them until over 100,” Bourgeois said.

Seeing a dermatologist for skin exams can aid in the early detection of skin cancer, and are especially important for those at a higher risk for skin cancer, such as those who have had skin cancer before, have a strong history of skin cancer, a significant number of moles, or a lowered immune system, Dyck stressed.

As a dermatologist, Bourgeois protects his skin by staying clear of harmful UV rays.

“I really am very, very cautious about preventing sunburn and even suntanning,” Bourgeois said. “It really makes all the difference. That’s where the sunscreen and antioxidants are really important.”

Dyck also stressed the importance of protecting skin from the sun.

“I can not express how important sun protection is to keeping your skin looking youthful longer,” Dyck said. “Aging skin begins to lose collagen and elastic tissue that keeps it plump and taught. Ultraviolet damage from the sun and indoor tanning speeds up this aging process.”

A healthy lifestyle is also important for achieving glowing skin. A healthy, well-balanced diet, rest, limited alcohol and refraining from smoking all improve skin health.

“My motto is, ‘healthier inside, healthier outside!'” Dyck said.