House Calls

SUM 2019

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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Skin plays an important role in the immune system, but it can't protect us if it's deteriorated or scorched. In the following pages, we peel back the layers on our body's outer covering, with Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated dermatologist Fiona Rahbar giving us the low-down on all things derm. What exactly is skin, and what does it do? Which skin afflictions are most common? How can we protect our skin during the summer and beyond? How should we care for our skin today to ensure its health in the future? Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more. THE SCIENCE OF SKIN As the body's largest organ, accounting for roughly 16 percent of our weight, skin has a big job. Not only does this stretchy waterproof barrier hold our bodies together in a way that permits movement, but it also protects us from environmental extremes and harmful microbes, helps regulate body temperature, and transmits the sensation of touch. Our bodies shed some 35,000 dead skin cells every day to allow new ones to surface; from formation to flake off, this process takes about 40 to 56 days. Skin consists of three layers that differ in composition and depth. The deepest layer, the hypodermis, consists of insulating fatty tissue that binds the skin to muscles and bones and pads our frames from bumps and falls. Above the hypodermis lies a thicker section of fibrous and elastic tissue (primarily collagen) called the dermis. This middle layer houses follicles that root each hair, nerve endings that signal the brain through touch, sweat glands that cool the body and purge toxins, sebaceous glands that produce oil to soften and protect skin, and blood vessels that feed the skin. The outermost epidermis is comprised of tough protein cells (keratinocytes) and pigment cells (melanocytes) that constantly grow outwards. The epidermis also holds receptor cells that convert cholesterol to vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Vitamin D, commonly called the "sunshine vitamin," plays a vital role in bone formation and immune strength. The essential nutrient has also been associated with the prevention of osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, depression, sleep and neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases, according to the Journal of Advanced Research. Though recommended amounts differ among authorities, the generally accepted guidelines from the National Institutes of Health assert that children and adults should receive 600IU of vitamin D daily and seniors, 800IU. "People often overestimate how much sun exposure the body requires to fulfill that need," says Dr. Rahbar, explaining that 15 to 20 minutes of daily exposure on uncovered skin the size of one's thigh is sufficient. "Just by living in Charleston, we're unlikely to have a deficit." This UV-soaked lifestyle, however, puts us at risk for developing troublesome skin conditions, so many doctors advise supplementation over sunbathing. DERM DIAGNOSES "Our skin is the barrier between inside and out, protecting us from external influences and infection," says Dr. Rahbar. However, summertime's abundance of heat, humidity, and UV exposure can take a toll on that barrier, leading to several common skin maladies. Skin Cancer Ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds damages skin cell DNA, and that can trigger rapid multiplication of abnormal cells, a condition we know as skin cancer. Every year, U.S. doctors diagnose more people with this disease than all other cancers combined, reports the American Cancer Society—that's one in five Americans by the age of 70. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinomas 22 { summer 2019 } h o u s e c a l l s P H O T O G R A P H S D R . R A H B A R B Y L U C Y C U N E O P H O T O G R A P H Y ; M A N B Y L I G H T F I E L D S T U D I O S / S H U T T E R S T O C K A hh, summer. When the mercury climbs into the upper 80s and humidity reaches near 90 percent. To beat the heat, we're baring more of our bodies than at any other time of year. But as we bask in the sun—whether we're lounging by the pool, tending gardens, or just strolling from the car to the grocery—those sneaky ultraviolet rays are wreaking havoc on our skin in the form of burns, cancers, and dark spots. The accompanying warm, wet air can also give rise to flare-ups of eczema, acne, and rashes. What's in Skin? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, every inch of our skin contains roughly: • 20 blood vessels • 650 sweat glands • 1,000+ nerve endings • 60,000 pigment cells Dr. Fiona Rahbar

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