Friday, May 18, 2012

Winter Skin Care Tips

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery With the right protection, you can avoid uncomfortable winter weather that causes windburn or chapping. See more pictures of beautiful skin.
Does even the mere thought of winter make your skin feel tight and itchy? Learning how your skin reacts to the winter chill and adjusting your skin care will help you keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose -- and the rest of your skin, too.

Winter weather affects your skin in several ways. Dry skin is the most common result of seasonal weathering. Cold winter air lacks humidity and dries up natural oils in your skin, causing it to lose its moisture [source: Casey]. Bitter winter winds also cause chapping and windburn. This leads to rough, cracked skin that can feel tight and uncomfortable. The obvious solution might seem to be to getting in out of the cold, but during the winter months, indoor heating systems dry inside air, too. Instead of finding relief indoors, you're likely to suffer an extra dose of the drying effect.

All hope is not lost, however. You can take steps to protect your skin by making careful choices about your soap and your laundry products, keeping your skin covered up when outside, and increasing the moisture inside your home. While planning your winter skin care regimen, you should be sure to consider any existing skin conditions. Winter weather not only irritates healthy skin but also can make current skin problems worse. If you have a skin condition such as dandruff, psoriasis or eczema, be aware that winter weather might cause those conditions to flare up [source: Casey].

If you're not sure how best to protect your skin this winter or if your skin looks infected, you should consult your doctor. In the meantime, check out the next page for a few tips for keeping your skin feeling and looking healthy until the spring.

Don't Forget Your Hands

With all the colds and flu cases going around in the winter, it's a good idea to wash your hands often. But all that cleaning can cause chapping, drying and even cracking. If your hands become dry or cracked during the winter, try replacing your regular hand soap with a cleanser that's mild or soap-free. Your hands might also benefit from applying moisturizer after each wash. For an extra moisture blast, apply a thick moisturizer before you go to bed and cover your hands with cotton gloves while you sleep [source: Irwin].

Daily Winter Skin Care

Although you can't control the weather, you can certainly take steps to keep it from ruining your day. Once you've checked the local weather report, it's time to check your cupboards and closets for the right materials.
If your skin feels itchy and dry during the winter, then check your soap. For washing your body, try switching to a soap formulated for sensitive skin. To wash your clothes, try using an allergen-free or hypoallergenic laundry detergent made without perfumes or dyes. You might also want to avoid using fabric softener sheets as some brands can leave small, itchy fibers on your clothes.
You know it's important to wear warm clothes and shoes during cold weather. However, you might not realize that how you layer your clothing can also affect your skin's health. Avoid wearing itchy fabrics like wool next to your skin. Try to wear softer, less abrasive fabrics, like cotton, closest to your body in order to let your skin breathe. Also, keep in mind that if your clothes become wet, you should change into dry clothes as soon as possible -- wet clothes can irritate your skin [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Do you know what's in your daily beauty and grooming products? Formulas that work well with your skin most of the year might suddenly irritate those sensitive tissues in the winter. For example, many common anti-aging ingredients can cause irritation and redness, and the winter weather can worsen these side effects. If your usual warm-weather routine irritates your skin during cold weather, try switching to mild and unscented products that will be gentler on your skin [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Despite our best efforts, we can't always prepare for a cold spell. If you're already in too deep to prevent it, read on to learn how to treat your dry winter skin.

Bath Bonuses

Get a little extra bang out of your bathing time with the following two tricks. First, keep the door to the bathroom closed to seal in the extra humidity. Next, slather on moisturizer soon after you hop out of the tub or shower. When you towel off, leave your skin a bit damp and then rub the moisturizer right in, locking the water in the surface cells of your skin [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

Treating Dry Skin in Winter

If you've ever had dry skin, you know the misery it can cause. These three remedies can help soothe and heal dry, cracked skin. They also work well as preventive measures along with the tips in the previous section.
When cold weather reigns outside, you might be tempted to soak in a hot bath, but this will cause irritated skin more harm than good. Hot water strips the oils from your skin, and if you have dry skin, you want to add as much moisture as possible. You don't need to eliminate bath time altogether, but to help your dry skin heal, you should keep your showers and baths short and use lukewarm instead of hot water.
You can't control the weather outside, but you do have some control over the climate inside. Dry skin needs moisture. Using a humidifier in your home replaces the indoor moisture lost to your heating system. Not only will your skin appreciate the moisture, but your sinuses will thank you, too.
To trap as much moisture in your skin as possible, you should apply moisturizer regularly. Moisturizers are available as oils, creams and lotions. The choice you make largely depends on the dryness of your skin and your tolerance for the greasy feel of the moisturizer. Oils are greasy and slippery, but they seal in moisture well. Creams aren't as greasy, disappearing when you rub them in, and they also trap moisture well. Lotions tend to add the least moisture, but they absorb quickly so they don't feel so greasy. However, many lotions contain alcohol, which helps quicken their absorption. Alcohol causes dryness as well, so you should try to avoid lotions that include it [source: University of Iowa Health Care].
Now that you know how to treat dry skin, what should you do about other winter hazards, like windburn? Keep reading to find out.

Plan Ahead

Do you have a big ski trip or another outdoor adventure planned? All that time outdoors requires extra care and planning for your skin. Start working on your windburn prevention the week before you leave. Discontinue use of any skin care products that strip or heavily exfoliate your skin, like alpha-hydroxy and salicylic acids or retinoids. Also, save your spa trips for later. You don't want to do any kind of dermabrasion or peels right before you spend a lot of time outside in the winter cold [source: Baumann].

Protecting Against Windburn

Ever spend time out in a stiff winter wind and realize that your skin feels angry and sore? Cold winter
wind can cause an unpleasant skin condition known as windburn. When the wind repeatedly chafes your skin, the friction from the wind acts like sandpaper. As with sunburn, windburn can leave your skin red, raw and blistered. A severe windburn might even peel like a sunburn.
Your best line of defense against windburn is to prevent it all together. Try these three windburn prevention tricks:
  • Use moisturizer -- Use a thick, heavy cream to serve as a barrier against the wind and to trap as much moisture in your skin as possible.
  • Apply petroleum jelly -- Yes, it's goopy and gooey, but petroleum jelly makes an excellent windshield. Petroleum jelly not only prevents the wind from touching your skin but also acts as a strong moisturizer [source: Baumann].
  • Bundle up -- Although people often wear several layers during cold months, it's important to remember your face is extremely susceptible to windburn. It might make you feel like a bank robber, but a ski mask will help keep the wind off your face. Wearing a hat and a scarf also protects your head, neck and face. Don't forget to keep your sensitive ears covered. Biting wind and cold can cause painful infections in unprotected ears.
Most injuries from the cold are minor and will heal in time. Some can be more severe than others, however, and require personal treatment. If you do get windburn, frequently apply a good moisturizer or aloe vera to help heal the burned skin [source: WebMD].
Now that you know how to deal with the winter air and winter winds, read on to learn how to deal with the winter sun.

High Altitude Sun Risk

Did you know that the strength of the sun's UV rays increases as the elevation increases? If you live or vacation in high altitudes, you need to be especially careful about using sunblock. UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes, and during the winter, you get extra exposure because UV rays reflect, or bounce, off the snow back at you [source: Euwer]. If you're going to spend time in high altitudes, plan on wearing a stronger sunblock than you normally use.

Daily Winter Sun Protection

Sun protection is just as important during the winter as it is during the warmer months. It might feel cold outside, but that doesn't have anything to do with the strength of the sun's ultraviolet, or UV, rays. Although people tend to associate heat with sunburn, that's a myth. No matter what the temperature is outside, you can get sunburn. Make sure you educate yourself on a few preventive measures you can take.
Always wear sunblock. You should wear sunblock of at least SPF 15 or higher even in the winter. You'll need to reapply the sunblock periodically because the winter weather will dry it out and strip it from your skin.
Don't forget your lips. Too much sun exposure can lead to dry, cracked lips and, over time, can cause skin cancer. Like sunblock for the rest of your skin, your lip balm should be SPF 15 or higher. You'll need to reapply lip balm often during the day [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Avoiding sunburn means avoiding the sun, and that means covering up. Wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your entire head, including your ears and neck. Also, don't forget to wear shades that include UV protection and cover your sensitive eye area [source: WebMD]. And whether it's winter or summer, pay attention to the UV index scale. If UV levels are high, very high or extreme, it helps to minimize the amount of time you spend in sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The best way to tell if your sun exposure is too high is to look at your shadow -- if it's shorter than you, as it usually is during the midday, seek out shade [source: Environmental Protection Agency].
From sunburn and windburn prevention to dry skin, winter poses a number of unique skin care challenges. With a little thought and planning, you can enjoy your winter escapades without worrying about Jack Frost ruining your fun.

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Daily Sensitive Skin Care Regimens

Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Do you have sensitive skin? Choosing the right products can protect you from irritants and other harmful substances. See more pictures of getting beautiful skin.

Sensitive skin is a common problem for people -- it's so common, in fact, that drugstores are filled with products that promise to soothe and smooth. But do these products improve skin health for everyone with sensitive skin?
Unfortunately, no two types of skin are alike. Dermatologists recognize four types of sensitive skin: acne, rosacea, skin that stings upon product use and skin affected by allergies [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Even these four types of skin are radically different. Skin with acne tends to have high levels of oil and bacteria, and products that add oil to the skin can potentially made it worse. Rosacea, a condition characterized by flushing of the skin or broken and inflamed blood vessels underneath the surface, may require more serious dermatological treatments. And allergic reactions, as with all types of sensitive skin conditions, may require a visit to a dermatologist for testing and antibiotic medications.
Age and ethnicity further complicate the process of finding an appropriate skin care product. Skin changes with age, and different ethnicities experience distinct skin conditions [source: Draelos]. So it's not surprising that no single skin care product can solve the needs of every person with sensitive skin.
Finding the right skin care products to meet your individual needs can be tricky and will likely involve a lot of trial and error. It's best to try a variety of products. If you are interested in particular treatment or a customized skin care regimen, ask a dermatologist.
An appropriate skin care regimen will include cleansing to rid the skin of irritants and protection from future damage. This article will help you discover how to best care for sensitive skin. First up, you'll learn about the best ways to cleanse sensitive skin.

Astringents and Toners

Astringents and other toners are substances that may be wiped on the face with a cotton ball after cleansing. Many toners claim to rid the skin of residue left by cleansers. If you use a mild cleanser, toner might not be necessary. Use an astringent with ethanol to remove extra oils from acne-prone skin. Try a toner with a low alcohol content to soothe irritated skin [source: Smith]. Most importantly, remember to moisturize immediately after using any astringents and toners.

Daily Cleansing for Sensitive Skin

The first step in any skin care regimen is cleansing. Of course, using water to cleanse the skin helps to remove dirt and other irritants. Some people, however, choose to use a cleanser to remove excess oil and dirt. But don't just reach for any cleanser if you have sensitive skin.
Soap, while conventional, strips the skin of essential oils and could leave behind a drying residue that may irritate sensitive skin. If you find that the soap you're using irritates your skin, switch to a non-soap cleanser. Non-soap cleansers (such as beauty bars) do not contain harsh ingredients found in typical soaps. Also, be sure to stay away from products that contain acidic ingredients and products with fragrances, as these tend to be more irritating. When in doubt, test a product on a small patch of your skin before using it on your whole face or body.
Do not use soap on the face, as most dermatologists advise against it [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Instead, try foam cleansers or disposable facial cleansing cloths. If you buy cleansing cloths, look for those that have visible holes in the fabric weave, as they will offer increased softness.
Though you may wash your face twice a day, it's best not to use facial scrubs more than once or twice per week. Scrubs exfoliate the skin, removing dirt and dead skin cells. But for someone with sensitive skin, scrubs can be especially irritating. Try a scrub with soft scrubbing beads that are gentler on your skin. When cleansing your body, wash gently, and discontinue the use of any scrubbing tools, such as sponges or loofahs, that irritate your skin.
With all this daily cleansing and scrubbing, it's no wonder skin dries out. Moisturizing your skin immediately after cleansing is essential to your daily skin care routine. Find out how to moisturize sensitive skin on the next page.

Moisturize to Treat Eczema

People with eczema tend to experience chronic dry and itchy skin that is easily irritated. For cleansing, do not use soap as it may further irritate the eczema [source: National Eczema Association]. Find a non-acidic, non-soap cleanser and be sure not to scrub the skin. After washing, medicate as necessary. Then immediately trap moisture in the skin using a fragrance-free moisturizer.

Daily Moisturizing for Sensitive Skin

Moisturizing can be done in two easy steps. First, immediately after cleansing your skin, lightly pat it dry with a towel and leave some moisture on the skin. Next, put moisturizer on your skin within three minutes of cleansing [source: National Eczema Association].
What does moisturizing do for your skin? Most of your body's skin holds about 80 percent water, but the surface of the skin only holds up to 30 percent water [source: Skin Care Guide]. To heal and protect sensitive skin from inflammation and infection, it's necessary to retain moisture in that top layer. Moisturizers return moisture to the skin that was lost during cleansing, and then trap it in for protection against drying. That's why it's beneficial to apply moisturizer soon after cleansing in order to retain as much moisture as possible.
Like cleansers, not all moisturizers work the same. You may need to test several products on a patch of skin to determine which one works best without causing irritation. Moisturizers may come in the form of ointments, creams or lotions. Ointments are usually greasy, while lotions are typically water-based. Use a formula that is lightweight and feels good on the skin. Try an oil-free moisturizer if you have acne or oily skin. Moisturizers with fragrances may smell good, but they can have damaging effects on sensitive skin. Fragrances are likely to cause irritation and allergies [source: Mayo Clinic].
When applying moisturizer, use small amounts on the face, and use thicker amounts on the rest of the body. Your face naturally has more oil glands than the rest of your body, so you can be more sparing on your face.
Moisturizer alone will not protect you from potential damage and irritation. Protection from the sun is also a necessary component of daily sensitive skin care. Learn how you can protect your sensitive skin from the sun's rays on the next page.

Skin Care for Women

The difference between female and male skin is important, especially in regards to skin thickness. With that in mind, some spa treatments may cause irritation to sensitive skin. If you're going to use a particular treatment, don't overdo it. Stay away from scrubbing and acidic ingredients. Even cosmetic products can irritate sensitive skin. In general, it's also best to avoid liquid makeup. Choose products with the fewest ingredients, and dispose of any old makeup [source: Draelos].

Daily Protection for Sensitive Skin

Daily protection for sensitive skin involves both moisturizing and protecting your skin from the sun's rays. Sun damage can lead to skin aging, irritation and even skin cancer, so it's important to keep it in mind as part of your daily sensitive skin regimen.
Two types of ultraviolet, or UV, light from the sun can damage your skin. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, while UVB rays cause sunburn. While UVA rays can pass through glass and are largely responsible for skin cancer, both types are damaging. Unfortunately, most sunscreens only protect against UVB rays. To find a sunscreen that protects against both types of rays, check the ingredient list. Ingredients that help protect against UVA rays include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and Parsol 1789 (avobenzone). You can check sunscreen bottles to see if they have those ingredients [source: Environmental Protection Agency].
The sun protection factor, or SPF, also should be taken into consideration when choosing sunscreen. The SPF will help you figure out if you have enough protection against UVB rays. Generally, anything under SPF 15 is not enough to protect you from potent ultraviolet light. As with cleansers and moisturizers, stay away from sunscreen with fragrances, acidic ingredients and heavy oils. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen every day, applying one ounce (29.5 mL) every two hours. If you sweat or go in the water, you need to reapply the sunscreen more often [source: University of New Hampshire].
Your best option is to find a moisturizer that contains sunscreen for maximum healing and protection. After you've made your selection, apply it daily. Check with a dermatologist for help or recommendations if you have any questions or concerns.
It's possible to cleanse, manage and protect sensitive skin on a daily basis if you follow the tips described in this article. If you want to find out more about skin care, use the links on the next page for more helpful tips.

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Soothing Super-stressed Skin

Stressed-out skin probably got that way for a reason. "If someone wants to look 10 years older than their chronological age, smoke and go out in the sun," says Walnut Creek, Calif., dermatologic surgeon Min-Wei Christine Lee, M.D. If your skin's seen better days - whether from years of photo-damage or other types of long- or shorter-term abuse - there are skin solutions that can get back its brilliance.

What to do if your skin lacks luster? These are dermatologists' top-of-the-list dos and don'ts.

Do: Buy products made for sensitive skin.

The products should be specifically tailored to provide TLC - try Aveeno, Eucerin and other low-priced products first and they might just do the trick. For others, the higher-priced brands like Jan Marini and Prescriptives might prove to be better.

Do: Wash in the evening only, with a gentle cleanser.

If your skin isn't oily, a once-a-day wash will suffice. "Your face doesn't have to squeak to be clean," assures Lisa Donofrio, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Do: Exfoliate to remove the dead skin layer that dulls.

Your body will naturally exfoliate every 28 days, but why wait four weeks? You can exfoliate with a facecloth and your favorite cleanser, or buy an alpha hydroxy acid exfoliator to clear up your complexion.

Do: Consider getting a chemical peel, microdermabrasion or laser or other skin-saving procedure to undo damage.

Ask a dermatologist to help you decide on the easiest route for right-away rejuvenation, or a deeper-reaching procedure that requires more down time.

Do: Make lifestyle changes to save your skin, and in some cases your life.

Don't skimp when applying the sunscreen. Quit smoking - besides causing lung cancer, it causes lines to be etched on your face. Get regular sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. Load up on nutritious foods, such as vitamin-rich leafy vegetables, and take a multivitamin if you don't always eat quite right.

Don't: Use toners, alcohol-based astringents or scouring products that make your skin sting or itch.
These products, as well as those with high fragrance content, can further irritate sensitive skin.

Don't: Assume that spending big bucks will buy you better skin.

When choosing from the overwhelming array of skin products that are available, don't think that a pricey product will necessarily work better for you. The $150-per-ounce French face cream could cause your skin to break out when the much cheaper drug-store brands wouldn't bother you a bit.
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5 Ways to Care for Your Hands Every Day

Like your face, your hands function as bridges to the world. You shake hands when you meet or greet someone for the first time and when you seal a deal. Your hands express your affection to those you love. They soothe sad children and those suffering from illness. Maybe you "talk" with yours. In any case, whenever you're interacting with others, your hands will probably spend some time in the spotlight.
The problem is that your hands are also essential tools. You use them for complex maneuvers and lowly chores.
And everyone is always telling you the importance of washing your hands. In the course of a day, your hands are exposed to all sorts of germs, dirt, harsh substances, sunlight and more. To make matters worse, the frequent washing that's designed to keep your hands sanitary also can keep them dry, cracked and wrinkled.
If neglected, your hands' skin may end up needing medical help. That said, your fingernails (and your spirits) might benefit from a professional manicure now and then.
Taking good care of your hands doesn't have to be a major production. There are things you can do every day to help your hands look and feel good. Develop a good routine and give your hands a helping hand.

Want to avoid germs? Wash your hands.

5. Wash with Care

You've heard it a million times: Washing your hands is the best thing you can do to keep from spreading bacteria, viruses and other nasty things to yourself, and from yourself to others.
Wash your hands frequently. If you make it a practice to wash your hands the right way, their look and feel shouldn't be a casualty of your healthy habits.
A little knowledge about skin can help you understand how to wash your hands properly. Skin is composed of layers. The outer layer (the stratum corneum) is mostly made of dead skin cells surrounded by natural oils produced by the living cells in the layer beneath. The natural oils make a protective shield that keeps water inside the body and germs and other irritants out. If the outer layer doesn't have enough natural oils, it won't retain enough water -- and your skin may be dry, rough, red, cracked and itchy.
When you want to get all the oil or grease off dirty dishes, you use very hot water with a strong soap that will leave them squeaky clean. That's exactly what you don't want to do with your hands. You want to remove germs and grime, but you don't want to strip all the natural oils from your hands. Wash with warm water instead.
You should also avoid harsh soaps. Dermatologists recommend nondrying soaps like Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, Purpose and Oil of Olay [source: Iowa]. Liquid nonsoap cleansers like Cetaphil also work well. Antibacterial soaps aren't necessary and may even dry skin more. They also can kill good bacteria on the hands and encourage bad bacteria that resist antibiotics [source: Mayo Clinic].
Rinse hands well and dry by patting or blotting gently. Don't rub.
Keep reading to learn all about moisturizers.

Apply moisturizer after washing your hands to keep them soft and smooth.

4. Moisturize

Good moisturizers can help prevent or treat dry skin on your hands. They hold that needed water in the outer layer of skin, making your hands smoother and softer. They also help your outer skin act as a temporary protective shield.
Many people like to use some sort of water-based lotion, but that may not be the best choice. Lotions may make your hands feel great at first, but the water will evaporate quickly, drying your skin anew.
Creams are thicker and longer-lasting than lotions. Most creams are water-based, but folks with extremely dry skin may want to use an oil-based cream. Oil will hold water inside your skin longer, but the cream will leave a residue on your hands.
When choosing a moisturizer for daily use, make sure you read the ingredients:
  • Humectants such as glycerin, alpha hydroxy acids and urea actually draw moisture from the air around you into your skin. They don't work if the air is dry.
  • Emollients get into the spaces between the cells on the outer layer of skin. They replace oils that have been washed away to make the skin smoother. Emollients may be primarily water- or oil-based.
  • Most products will include a preservative -- often, several -- to keep bacteria from damaging them after you open the container. If your skin is sensitive, some preservatives may irritate it. Trial and error may help you learn which ones work for you.
  • Fragrances also may cause irritation or contact allergy. Avoid them or find ones that you can tolerate.
[source: Mayo Clinic]
Washing carefully and moisturizing should be important parts of your daily hand-care routine -- but they're not everything.

Protect your hands from harsh cleaners by wearing gloves around the house.
Stuart Paton/Getty Images

3. Treat Hands with Kid (or Other) Gloves

Your hands have a hard enough time as it is. Give them a break by protecting them from unnecessary exposure to anything that will make things worse.
All you have to do is make wearing gloves part of your daily routine. Until you get into the habit, taking a couple of minutes to put on gloves before various activities might seem bothersome. You might find wearing them uncomfortable at first, but it's worth the time.
Wear gloves anytime you plan to use harsh cleaning products. There's no use being careful about the soap you use to wash your hands if you're also exposing your hands to household cleaners. Keep a couple of pairs of elbow-length rubber gloves around for heavy cleaning. Use an inexpensive pair of cotton gloves as a liner to prevent sweating and itching.
You can find inexpensive white, cotton gloves at most drugstores. You can also use them to cover your hands after you've moisturized them at night or after applying medication for absorption.
Keep disposable gloves like those used by medical professionals and food-service workers around the house also. If preparing onions, tomatoes or other strong or acid foods irritates your hands, the gloves can help.
Wear gloves when gardening or doing yard work to protect hands and nails.
In cold weather, wear gloves when you go outside. It's not just to keep your hands from feeling cold. The gloves will also keep them from drying or chapping in the wintry air.
Year-round, whenever you'll be out in the sun, protect your hands with the invisible shield of sunscreen. The backs of hands, especially, need protection with a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 every day. A moisturizer that includes a sunblock of SPF 15 will also work.

Hey! Stop that!

2. Give Yourself a Mini-cure

A manicure may be a mood-elevating treat or preparation for a special occasion. Most of us won't get a manicure every day, but we can give ourselves a mini-cure, or the little things that help keep nails healthy and attractive. For example:
  • Don't bite your fingernails.
  • Use moisturizer on your nails as well as on your skin. For an extra treat at night, warm a favorite essential oil and give your nails a therapeutic soak.
  • Don't cut cuticles, push them back too far or use chemicals on them.
  • When cuticles are soft and moist, push them back gently with a soft cloth.
  • Buff nails with a soft cloth.
  • If nails become discolored, stop using polish for a while.
  • The acetone in nail polish remover can damage nails, so use it sparingly.
  • Keep your nails clean.
  • Prepare your nails and cuticles for grooming by cutting a lemon in half, sticking your fingernails inside and twisting them around to clean them.
  • Use a file with a fine texture to shape nails and remove snags.
  • File nails to a rounded point to preserve their strength.
Need more ideas to help your hands every day? Read on.

If you want to take care of your hands, start by taking care of the rest of your body.

1. Take Care of Your Whole Self

Many of the tips medical professionals offer for skin care amount to tips for general good health. That makes sense. The body is a unit made of many separate, but intertwined parts. The skin and nails on your hands will benefit from a basic, everyday healthful routine.
If you want to keep your hands and fingernails healthy, smooth and young-looking, think about what you eat. Research has found that a diet that has plenty of vitamin C but goes easy on the fats and carbohydrates may help skin look younger [source: Mayo Clinic]. Make sure that you stay well hydrated as well. External conditions -- dry air, harsh soaps and the like -- can cause dry skin. Drinking plenty of water helps your skin retain moisture.
Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Use a moisturizer with sunblock or a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more on the backs of your hands every day. Avoiding cigarettes also helps: Smoking makes your skin -- including that on your hands -- look older and more wrinkled. It also stains the fingernails.
Stress that isn't managed well can damage skin and nails. If you have problems with rashes or eczema on your hands, stress is likely to cause a flare-up. Stress also can make the nails more brittle. And if you're prone to nail-biting, stress can send you back to your old, bad habit.

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Daily Oily Skin Care Regimens

Having oily skin is not just a problem for teenagers. People of all ages can struggle with the blemishes and shine that go hand-in-hand with excess oil. For many, oily skin begins in the teen years, when puberty brings changes in the hormonal balance of the body. But while some people say goodbye to their oily skin in adulthood, others are still waiting -- many years past their high school graduation -- for their teenage skin to go away.
Experts link the cause of oily skin to the increased production of hormones, especially during puberty. But fluctuations in hormone levels can change even after puberty. Menstrual cycles, stress and emotional state can influence hormonal changes that contribute to oily skin. In addition to hormones, there is a hereditary component to having oily skin. Some people simply have skin that produces more oil than others [source: Bouchez].
However, the skin's production of oil is not all bad. In fact, it's normal. The oil produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin -- especially on the scalp, face, neck, chest and back -- is an essential component of your skin's health. Oil from the scalp makes hair look glossy and healthy. Oil on the face keeps facial skin, which is generally exposed to the elements more often than other body parts, from losing moisture and becoming dry and dull [sources: DERMADoctor]. But when the skin produces too much oil, problems can arise. Excess oil traps pore-clogging dirt and bacteria, and it causes the face to feel greasy and look shiny.
If you have oily skin, a regular routine of gentle cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection are a must. Choose quality products that will gently remove excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells without stripping or drying out your skin, and your skin will thank you. Read on to make an informed decision about the right skin care regimen for you, and learn about cleansers that are specially formulated for oily skin.

Masking Your Mug

Although there is little scientific evidence that mud- or clay-based masks work, there is strong anecdotal evidence that these products are effective at reducing oil on the skin. You can use these kinds of masks about once or twice a week for best results.

Daily Cleansing for Oily Skin

The key to any effective cleansing routine is balance. You want to strike the right balance between removing the pore-clogging dirt and oil that cause breakouts and preventing further problems or damage. This is especially true of oily skin. Remember that some oil is essential for healthy skin. If your cleanser removes too much oil, the layer of protection that the oil provides will be lost. In order to avoid this situation, refrain from using harsh cleansers and cleansing too vigorously or too often [source: Bouchez]. At most, you should cleanse skin twice a day.
So, what kinds of cleansers work well on oily skin? For the most part, choosing a cleanser that is specifically designed to be gentle on your skin is best. Avoid cleansers that contain oils, waxes or soaps. You many think that soap is the most common go-to ingredient in a cleanser, but don't be fooled. Soap will only momentarily make your face feel oil-free. But because soap strips skin of all oil, using it may lead to even greater oil production as your skin works to replace its lost protective layer [source: P&G Beauty Science].
Cleansers containing salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) or glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy acid) may also be helpful for gently cleaning and exfoliating oily skin. These two acids are often found in cleansers intended for acne-prone skin because they remove dead skin cells and oil that clog pores. But if your skin is easily irritated, look for products that have very low concentrations of these acids [source: DERMADoctor].
Using the right daily cleanser is a good start, but it isn't enough to keep your skin healthy. You may not think that oily skin needs a moisturizer, but read on to find out about the next step in the skin care regimen.

Water the Lawn, Water the Garden… Water the Skin?

Drinking water is important for overall health because it helps remove toxins from the body and is essential for proper cell function. But can water solve your skin problems? Probably not. Drinking excessive amounts of water or spraying water on skin will not magically cause skin to look younger or healthier. But drinking an adequate amount of water each day is a different story. The body needs enough water so that skin can stay hydrated. Otherwise, toxins that would normally be excreted build up in the body and may contribute to acne [source: Baumann].

Daily Moisturizing for Oily Skin

You may be thinking that moisturizing skin that is already oily will just make it worse. The truth is that everyone should moisturize, even people with oily skin. Adding moisture to the skin is not the same thing as adding oil. In fact, the layer of oil on your skin works to retain the moisture necessary for healthy skin. Neglecting the important step of moisturizing in your skin care regimen will only make difficult skin worse by introducing new problems, such as dry or flaky patches.
Even the gentlest cleanser can have a drying effect on skin, and this effect may be more noticeable as you age, since older skin loses moisture more readily. To help reduce the drying effects of these cleansers, use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer after cleansing your skin.
Like cleansers, many moisturizers contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid or lactic acid. As we age and expose ourselves to the sun more often, new skin cells replace older ones at a decreased rate. This causes a thin but noticeable layer of dead skin cells to build up, which can also lead to more oil. AHAs can help improve the tone of your skin by removing dead skin cells and excess oil. They work by loosening a glue-like substance that holds dead cells against the surface of your skin. Once removed, the newer skin cells underneath tend to have a healthier, more glowing tone [source: DermNet NZ]. As long as these moisturizers do not irritate the skin, they are safe to use on oily skin.
Now that you're cleansing your skin twice a day and using an oil-free moisturizer, is there anything else you should do to keep your oily skin healthy and looking great? Read on to learn more about protecting oily skin.

Ultraviolet Radiation

UVA and UVB are both types of ultraviolet electromagnetic radiation from the sun. These rays penetrate Earth's atmosphere and cause damage to skin. They contribute to skin cancer, skin aging and cataracts, so it's important to protect yourself [source:].

Daily Protection for Oily Skin

Regardless of skin type, all skin needs protection from the sun's damaging ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Your face is exposed to the sun every day, even if you stay indoors -- the sun's UVA rays can still pass through glass windows. Using sun protection will not only help reduce your chances of getting skin cancer, but also help you avoid some visible signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Of course, people with oily skin don't always think spreading a sticky sunscreen all over their skin is the best idea. In fact, some sunscreens aren't suitable for just anyone's face -- let alone a person with oily skin and pores that are prone to clog up and turn into blemishes. Sun protection is imperative, and since there are so many options to choose from when it comes to sunscreen, it pays to shop around for the product that works for both your lifestyle and skin type.
It's important to choose a sunscreen that is specially formulated for the face. These sunscreens tend to be gentler, lighter and less likely to clog pores. Choose one with little or no fragrance, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. For everyday use, choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 to 30. For outdoor use at the beach, pool or garden, you may want an SPF that is stronger than 30. When outdoors, note that you will need to reapply sunscreen every two hours, and after swimming or exercising [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
After cleansing, moisturizing, and using sunscreen, what more can you do to make sure your oily skin stays healthy? What if all these good habits don't quite make the cut? There are a few more things you can try to minimize oil. Read on to learn more.

Battling Blemishes with Benzoyl Peroxide

One of the problems people with oily skin face is a constant battle with blemishes. Since excess oil on the skin tends to trap dirt and dead skin cells, oily skin often leads to clogged pores. This gives rise to pimples, zits, blemishes, blackheads and whiteheads. Whatever you call them, however, they're a nuisance and tend to be painful. To treat acne, many people use products containing benzoyl peroxide alongside a topical antibiotic, an oral antibiotic and a topical retinoid [source: Rhodes].

Daily Treatment for Oily Skin

If a regular routine of gentle cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection don't seem to be enough to combat your oily skin, there are several other options for daily use. One kind of treatment is the use of astringents or toners. These products usually include alcohol, witch hazel or acetone, which remove oil from skin. They can also kill bacteria on the skin, which may help prevent blemishes. However, not all dermatologists recommend using these products on oily skin, as they can cause dryness, redness and irritation [source: DERMADoctor].
Another temporary fix to absorb oil is to use blotting papers. These can be found in most drug stores near the acne and skin care products. If oily skin is a problem during the day, you might find that blotting excess oil from your face reduces shine. Mattifying gels and products marketed as anti-shine skin "primers" may also help soak up excess oil between cleansings and keep makeup from "sliding" off the face.
In really difficult cases of oily skin, it may be necessary to consult a dermatologist. He or she may prescribe topical or oral drugs to treat oily skin. There are also topical treatments containing synthetic retinoids, biochemical compounds that are derivatives of Vitamin A. Some types of retinoids include tretinoin, adapalene or tazoratene. The oral prescription drug isotretinoin is also occasionally used off-label to treat oily skin [source: Bouchez]. As with any prescription or over-the-counter drug used to treat any type of skin, it is best to talk with your doctor or dermatologist before beginning treatment. An expert can advise you on the best way to take care of your skin if you need something in addition to your daily skin care routine.
Now that you know the basics of using a gentle cleanser, a light moisturizer and a sunscreen for oily skin, check out the links on the next page to find more information about creating a daily skin care regimen that works best for you.
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5 Ways to Take Care of Your Feet Every Day

All your feet need us a little tender loving care to stay healthy.

Your feet are probably the last part of your body you think about -- until they start hurting. They're too important to overlook, though: With some 26 bones and a complex framework of muscles, tendons and ligaments, your feet absorb the impact of your full body weight with every step, keeping you balanced and upright in the process.
The problems that can afflict your feet are numerous. Foot odor, cracked skin, fallen arches, corns, ingrown toenails, fungal infections and even damaged bones can cause discomfort and reduced mobility. While some of these problems are congenital, you can avoid many of them with a little TLC. If that wasn't enough of an incentive, all of these problems tend to worsen as we age, so if foot care doesn't seem important now, it will be.
The best way to keep your feet healthy is a simple regimen of daily care that will help keep the skin, bones and muscles of your feet functioning properly. Here are five foot care steps you can use every day.

Those heels are fine for the office, but you may want to try some flats after work.

5. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wearing the wrong shoes can affect many aspects of foot health. First, your shoes must fit. Shoes that fit too tightly can cause hammer toe, corns, ingrown toenails and general foot pain. Overly large shoes prevent your heel from settling in the proper place as you walk, causing blisters and calluses, sore heels and excessive shoe wear. Remember that your feet "stretch out" late in the day, so go shoe shopping after work, when your feet are at their largest. You might gain a half size as you age as well, so your usual size from 10 years ago might not be your correct size today.
Some shoes are bad for your feet even if they fit properly. Wearing high heels frequently can cause damage to the bones of the foot. They're fine every once in a while, but you should find a comfortable pair of flat-soled sneakers for everyday wear.
You should also look for the right materials. Synthetics tend not to breathe well, trapping heat and moisture. Natural materials like leather and cotton will keep your feet cooler and release moisture; athletic shoes with special materials or mesh work even better. At the same time, though, you can't really avoid foot sweat. However, you can try to alternate your shoes, so that the pair you wore yesterday has a chance to dry out completely before you wear them again.

Exercise your foot muscles by taking a relaxing walk like this one.

4. Take a Walk

This might seem counterintuitive, since walking puts stress on your feet. The muscles in your feet are just like any other muscles -- they need exercise to stay strong. You can't really lift weights with your foot muscles, so the best way to exercise them is to just take a walk. It doesn't have to be a long walk, but taking one every day will keep those muscles firm and keep your tendons and ligaments flexible. That can prevent fallen arches later in life. And your dog will thank you for it.
If walking causes sore legs or feet, there are a couple of extra steps you can take to improve the problem. Arch support inserts can keep your feet in the proper position to support your weight during walking. Many stores have special measurement devices that will tell you which type of support is right for your foot. If you've been doing a lot of walking on pavement, your feet might not be up to the impact. Try walking on grass, dirt or a soft cinder track for added cushioning.
Of course, make sure you wear those breathable, well-fitted shoes when you walk.

Forgetting to wash your feet in the shower can lead to a host of other foot problems.

3. Wash Your Feet Every Day

Even the most conscientious and clean person among us skips washing his or her feet in the shower every now and then. It can be a pain. It's really important to the health of your feet, though.
Your feet spend most of every day trapped inside a pair of shoes. All the moisture and sweat provides fertile ground for bacteria to grow, and the spaces between your toes are even more hospitable for bacteria and fungi. When you don't wash your feet, you're letting that stuff accumulate from day to day. That leads to unpleasant foot odor -- and eventually to fungal infections and other skin problems.
You don't need a special foot wash to clean your feet. Just make sure you give them a thorough soaping, especially between your toes. After your shower, it's equally important to dry your feet (between the toes again) to prevent trapped moisture from letting all that bacteria hang around. Foot powder can keep them dryer longer, too.

Moisturizing your feet will make them much softer.

2. Moisturize

Moisturizing your feet seems to contradict everything we've told you about keeping your feet dry. Why would you add extra moisture? The wear and tear endured by your feet each day can result in areas of dry, cracked or scaly skin. If you live in a warm, sunny climate and wear sandals frequently, this problem may be significantly worse.
The cure is simple. Rub a lotion containing cocoa butter (a natural emollient) into the skin of your feet every day. You can do this in the morning, although it's recommended you skip the area between your toes. However, if you have serious scaling or dry skin issues on your feet, you may want to try an overnight moisturizing routine. Simply coat your feet in cocoa butter, then put on a comfortable pair of cotton socks. The socks will hold the cocoa butter against your skin and keep it from getting all over your sheets. In the morning, the skin on your feet will be much softer.

Want to keep all that nasty moisture away from your feet? Wear socks.

1. Wear Socks

We've already covered the importance of shoes, but socks can be easy to overlook. They're an integral part of your daily foot care routine. Not only do they protect your feet from wear and tear, they absorb and wick away moisture.
Most of the impact of walking or running is absorbed by a layer of fat in your heels. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, your heels might need some extra help. You can use shoe inserts, but a soft pair of socks can add some shock absorption as well. As you age, that fat layer gets thinner, so cushy socks becomes even more important. In addition, socks act as a barrier between your feet and your shoes, reducing blisters and calluses.
Socks also play a vital role in absorbing and drawing moisture away from your feet. For basic day-to-day wear, use socks made with natural fibers like cotton or wool. They're absorbent and will eventually wick moisture away from your feet to the breathable portion of your shoes (leather or mesh). For high-performance socks, there are synthetic materials made for athletes that are better at wicking moisture away because the material don't compress as much as natural fibers do when saturated with sweat.
For more information on foot care, see the links on the next page.

  • American Diabetes Association. "Foot Care." (June 14, 2010)
  • Paddock, Catherine. "Three Steps for Healthy Feet." Medical News Today. (June 11, 2010)
  • Richie, Douglas H., Jr. "Socks: Hosiery - Essential Equipment for the Athlete." American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. (June 14, 2010)

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Summer Skin Care Tips

Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery The right kind of sunscreen can protect your skin from harmful UV radiation. 

You've finally packed away the last of those bulky winter sweaters and found your favorite T-shirt from last year. As you throw it on and take a look in the mirror, you notice your skin isn't exactly in tip-top summer shape. Your legs are dry and flaky, your arms have a less-than-glowing tone, and a blemish is beginning to form in an oily spot near your nose. But don't worry -- with the right care, your skin can go from sorry to showstopping just in time for summer.
Before you run to the medicine cabinet and grab the closest bottle of lotion in the hopes of magically rubbing up some healthy skin, it's important to know what summer means for you and your skin. Sure, summer brings the added benefit of soaking up some extra sunshine, but for your skin this means exposure to UVA and UVB radiation. When the ultraviolet, or UV, index is high, your skin can burn in as little as 10 to 15 minutes [source: Sun Safety Alliance].

Summer's warm rays also pose another obstacle to good skin care: Whether you're exercising or just relaxing by the pool, you're bound to sweat a bit more. For your skin, extra sweat means that dirt, oils and other environmental chemicals are trapped close to the skin and your pores. Finally, those hot days -- perfect for enjoying a cool drink with family and friends -- turn up the heat on your skin, too. When the skin is warm, blood vessels send extra blood to the skin's surface to cool it off. Extra blood can turn your face red, making the skin swell and retain water while kicking oil production into high gear.
So, although summertime might try to throw you and your skin a curveball, with a few simple solutions you can hit a skin care home run and have everyone applauding your summertime glow. Read on to learn your new daily regimen.

Finding the Right Moisturizer

Look for moisturizers that are labeled noncomedogenic. These moisturizers do not contain ingredients that are known to clog pores. Clean, clear pores will ensure fewer breakouts. People with dry, flaky skin should apply a cream-based moisturizer to lock in the body's natural moisture. Those with oily skin should try a liquid, water-based moisturizer that won't weigh down skin.

Daily Summer Sun Protection

Summer is a great time to get outside and rejuvenate your mind and body. But for your skin, summer means extra exposure to the sun, heat and sweat. This summer, give your skin a little TLC with these tips for healthy, refreshed skin.
It's never too early in the year to think about applying sunscreen. The sun's UV rays can damage your skin all year long. Even on a cloudy day, your skin can be exposed to up to 40 percent of the sun's UV rays [source: Skin Cancer Foundation]. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your skin safe.
Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15 [source: Mann]. For those with lighter, fair skin, try a sunscreen with a rating of SPF 30. Apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside. To be the most effective, sunscreen needs time to absorb into your skin.
Don't be frugal -- apply sunscreen liberally and reapply sunscreen every two hours or after getting out of the water, since towel drying strips away sunscreen [source: Mayo Clinic]. You'll also want to reapply lotion after exercising, as sweat can water down sunscreen, making it less effective.
Whether you have dry skin, oily skin or normal skin, don't forget to moisturize it. Simple daily activities such as perspiring, shaving or washing your face can disrupt the skin's natural oil and moisture level. To counteract any skin stress your daily routine causes, apply a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type to keep things soft and supple.
Now that you have added sunscreen and moisturizer to your shopping list, read on to discover how to deal with those oily patches of skin that leave you feeling greasy.

The Truth about Thin Skin

Ever wonder why fine lines and wrinkles tend to show first around the eyes and neck? This is because the skin here is some of the thinnest on the body. Damage from sun exposure and lack of proper care is harder to hide where the skin has less support. Don't forget to pay extra attention to the skin around the eyes and neck when using moisturizers and sunscreen.

Treating Oily Skin in Summer

Take a close look at your skin. Any oily patches near your nose or on your chin? What about your forehead, hands or the bottoms of your feet? Skin naturally produces oil, and it can be difficult to keep this oil from clogging pores and causing breakouts -- especially when summertime heat exacerbates sticky skin situations.
Try these strategies to keep oily skin behaving beautifully:
  • Don't scrub too hard. Your skin produces oil to help seal in moisture and keep the skin hydrated. Your skin also produces oils to compensate for minor skin irritations. When you scrub oily patches with too much gusto and use alcohol-based cleansers, you actually stimulate the oil glands [source: Bouchez]. Gentle skin cleansers that don't irritate or over dry skin will keep oil production low. Less oil production to start with means less oil on the skin.
  • Don't wash too frequently. Washing your face twice a day is enough to remove dirt and oil buildup. Washing more frequently could stimulate extra oil production. During the summer months, you also might consider using a cleanser with salicylic acid at night. These cleaners gently remove dead skin cells that may clog pores [source: Bouchez]. If you notice your skin drying out from the use of a cleanser, cut back use to once a week.
  • Remove temptations. Your hands, feet and face are some of the oiliest places on your body. Every time you touch your face with your hands, you are transferring oil and dirt to places already prone to oil buildup. Keeping hands away from your face will help reduce oil transfer. Hair is oily too, so pull it back to keep it from making your skin greasy.
With oily patches of skin under control, you're no doubt wondering about those dry patches that come with combination skin, or skin types with both oily and dry areas. The good news is that it doesn't take much to help those, too. Let's find out how.

Removing Makeup with an Astringent

Astringents contain many drying agents, including water and alcohol [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. If the astringent stings when you use it, then it is probably too drying and might irritate your already sensitive skin. Consider switching to an alcohol-free cleanser or a mild soap.

Treating Dry Skin in Summer

To treat it properly, it's important to know what's causing dry skin. Our skin contains a natural layer of oils. Without these moisturizing oils, skin is prone to cracking, itching and flaking.
Treating dry summer skin starts with knowing how to retain the oils on your skin. Whether you have dry skin in a few spots or excessive scaling, relief from the effects of the warm summer air is within reach:
  • Start the day out right. A hot shower might feel like heaven, but it can wreak havoc on your skin. Long steamy showers tend to dry out skin by washing off the skin's natural oils. Without these oils, our skin loses more moisture than necessary during the day. If you find your skin feels itchy, tight or stingy after a shower, then it's time to rethink your morning routine. Consider taking cooler, shorter showers to amp up skin's natural oil attributes.
  • Use the right soaps. How does your soap smell? Heavily scented soaps might be harshly stripping away skin's oils, aiding and abetting the drying-out process. The more we scrub, the more damage we might be doing. Try trading in rich, foamy soaps for milder, fragrance-free ones.
  • Take it easy with the towel. Sure, your towels might be soft and extra absorbent, but where does that leave you? Dry, dry, dry. When you dry your hands after washing them or towel off after a shower, use a gentle touch. Lightly pat your skin dry. Leave skin slightly damp, and when you apply moisturizer, you will help seal in the extra moisture left on your skin.
With just a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can have healthy summer skin sure to attract attention. Clear, hydrated skin can be yours by using sunscreen, moisturizer, and a light touch to help skin look and feel its best. For more information on caring for your skin, check out the links on the following page.


  • AgingSkinNet. "Non-Facial Aging Skin: Treatments." (July 26, 2009)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin." (July 26, 2009)
  • Bouchez, Colette. "Oily Skin: Solutions That Work -- No Matter What Your Age." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)
  • Goins, Liesa. "Summer Skin Survival Guide." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)
  • Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problems?" WebMD. (July 26, 2009)
  • Mann, Denise. "Summer Skin Makeover." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top 5 Habits for Healthy Skin." 12/28/2007. (July 26, 2009)
  • Skin Cancer Foundation. "Sunscreens Explained." (July 26, 2009)
  • SunGuard Man Online. "Sunscreen Tips." (July 26, 2009)
  • Sun Safety Alliance. "How Fast Can You Sunburn?" (July 26, 2009)

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Signs of Breast Cancer

self exam
Cornstock/Getty Images
Self-exams are crucial for early detection of lumps or tenderness that may signal breast cancer.
Many people who are diagnosed with breast cancer feel ambushed and surprised. This is because early breast cancer often does not cause pain or other symptoms. However, there are signs of cancer that women and their partners often do find. It is important to check with a doctor if a breast or nipple changes shape, color or discharge.
Signs of breast cancer can include:
  1. Fluid (other than breast milk) coming from the nipple
  2. Change in the way a breast or nipple feels:
    • Nipple tenderness
    • Lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm
  3. Change in the way a breast or nipple looks:
    • Changes in size or shape
    • A nipple that starts to turn inwards or is indented
    • Scaly, red or swollen skin or nipple
    • Breast that is swollen, red and hot to the touch
    • Skin texture like the skin of an orange
Finding Breast Cancer Earlier
There are steps women can take to find breast cancer early, when it generally is easier to treat. Try to establish a regular routine of breast care, including:
  1. Examining your breasts monthly after age 20.

  2. Having a doctor or gynecologist perform a clinical breast exam at least every three years between 20 and 39 years of age.

  3. Scheduling annual mammograms every one to two years from age 40 to 49, depending on your risk profile, and then every year after that.
A mammogram is an imaging study of breast tissue. Regular mammogram screenings make it possible to find breast cancer early in its development. Recent research suggests that breast cancer tumors double in size in 1.7 years on average.
Keep a log or diary of these activities and the results as part of your health records.

It is also very important to let your doctor know about any history of cancer in your family, including brothers, sisters, father, mother and grandparents. Some women who are at higher risk for breast cancer might need to be more aggressive about early detection plans, including more frequent clinical exams or mammograms.
Familiarize yourself with the risk factors for breast cancer. Be sure to tell your know about any risk factors you might have, such as previous chest radiation treatments, benign breast lumps or a history of alcohol use. Do what you can on a personal level to reduce your risk, including limiting alcohol and getting enough physical activity.

  • National Breast Cancer Foundation
  • National Cancer Institute
  • "Mammograms Still a Good Idea for Elderly Women," April 21, 2008, HealthDay News
  •  "Breast Cancer Tends to Grow Faster in Younger Women," May 8, 2008, HealthDay News
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How long after sex does conception occur?

We know that conception occurs when one sperm joins with one egg, but how long after sex does that take?

When it comes to making a baby, the odds are stacked against any single sperm cell ever becoming a zygote through contact and penetration of a female egg. That's if a man has perfectly healthy sperm -- and if he has enough of them.
Let's look at the numbers: In the time it takes the human heart to produce one beat, a man's body produces 1,000 sperm cells [source: National Geographic]. On average, a man's ejaculate (about 2.75 milliliters of it) contains over a quarter-billion sperm [source: Lindemann]. Anything less than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen is considered low, while 39 million or more per milliliter is considered optimal for fertilization [source: Mayo Clinic].
One study showed that more intimate sex causes men to produce higher quantities of sperm that are of higher quality [source: Campbell]. But many other factors can affect the number and health of sperm cells, including environmental causes, lifestyle choices and medical issues.
Smoking, heavy drinking, drug use (including prescription drug use) or lack of exercise all contribute to diminished sperm count or poor sperm health. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle -- exercising, taking a daily multivitamin, eating nutritious meals with fruits and veggies -- you'll improve your odds of developing healthy sperm that are optimal for fertilization. Regardless of health or lifestyle, after age 50 there's generally a decline in sperm motility and quantity. And too much time in a hot bath or sauna can even affect sperm health, as the testes maintain a lower temperature that's preferable for the health of the sperm within.
Let's say that a man has perfectly healthy sperm cells. While a quarter-billion or so start off in search of the egg, fewer than 100 may ever get close to it.
But how long does it actually take for a sperm to penetrate an egg and form a zygote? What's the shortest time it would take? What's the longest? Keep your pants on -- we'll begin to uncover those answers in the next section.

What affects the success rate of conception?

While there's disagreement about whether or not a man should refrain from sex and ejaculation for a period of time before his partner ovulates, recent research indicates a man's sperm are healthiest when he has had daily sex in the week leading up to attempted conception [source: von Radowitz].
It seems the constant renewal of sperm prevents the time-related DNA damage that can occur in sperm that spend too much time in the testes. Dr. David Greening from the Sydney IVF clinic conducted a study involving men who had a higher-than-usual rate of DNA damage in their sperm cells. His team found that the percentage of sperm with damaged DNA decreased following periods of daily sex. Though the actual sperm count was cut by half, the sperm that were present were stronger, healthier and more mobile. However, the sperm count dropped to less effective levels if couples had sex three times a day or more [source: von Radowitz].
The odds of successful fertilization increase if at least 40 percent of the sperm are moving [source: Mayo Clinic]. Not all sperm cells have similar structures -- some have misshapen heads or damaged tails. In fact, many of the sperm are flawed in some way. Luckily, fertilization is probable if only 4 percent or more of the sperm have normal forms -- an oval head and a long tail to help it swim its way to conception [source: Mayo Clinic].
For women, any abnormality in the reproductive system can cause major problems when it comes time to conceive. Damaged fallopian tubes or uterine issues can prevent conception or a successful pregnancy.
In addition to receiving regular medical checkups, women can improve the odds of conception by staying healthy, maintaining a proper weight, staying away from tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and drug use, and protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.
To increase the odds of pregnancy, have sex at least every other day around the time of ovulation [source: Mayo Clinic]. Also, talk to your doctor to find out which lubricants may be adversely affecting the mobility -- and eventual success -- of the sperm.
Assuming both parties are healthy, how long does it take for fertilization to occur once sperm cells have entered the vagina? We'll find out in the next section.

A fast sperm cell could have reached its goal while you're still curled up in bed together.

From Sex to Conception

There are close to equal numbers of sperm that contain either a male chromosome or a female chromosome. This determines the gender of the baby at the very point of egg fertilization. It will also play a role in the race to reach the egg. While male sperm aren't as hardy, they have a speed advantage. Though slower than their male counterparts, the advantage in longevity goes to female sperm.
Sperm ejaculated outside of a female's body have a lifespan that tops out at a few hours and may be as brief as a few minutes [source: Harms]. But if they survive long enough to reach the fallopian tube, sperm cells can relax and enjoy a safe environment that's conducive to their continued survival. Some actually bind to the fallopian tube itself, as a means of receiving direct nourishment [source: National Geographic].
When an egg enters the fallopian tube from the other end, it produces a scent that drives the sperm cells crazy. They become very excited and begin a process called capacitation, during which they shed certain proteins and become very excited. Both the shedding of proteins and the boost in mobility aid the sperm cell in its quest to penetrate the egg.
When a sperm cell finally makes contact with the egg, the head of the sperm releases enzymes that help it penetrate the egg's exterior. Once a sperm cell does, the two cells -- the sperm and the egg -- form a single-celled unit called a zygote, and the change prevents any other sperm cells from getting through.
The fastest sperm can get to a fallopian tube is about 30 minutes, meaning that the quickest conception could occur following sex is in the half-hour range [source: WebMD]. This means that, following sex, the egg could be fertilized before you've gotten up to get a drink of water.
Conception can occur as many as five days after sex or possibly longer, as strong, healthy sperm can survive for about that many days (and perhaps even longer) in the supportive environment of the fallopian tubes as they wait for an egg to be released, if one isn't already present [source: Harms].
You can click on the next page for lots more information on fertility and conception in far less time than it takes to create a zygote.
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Daily Dry Skin Care Regimens

Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Beautiful Skin Image Gallery
Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Moisturizing daily may be all you need to do to combat dry skin.

Many of us have those days when we realize how dull, dry and patchy our skin is. And many of us have those nights when we attempt to combat the problem by engaging in a long ritual involving cleansers, toners and five different nighttime creams.
If you can relate to these scenarios, you're one of millions of Americans who try to fight dry skin with a bathroom cabinet full of skin care products. Dry skin, or xerosis, can appear on all parts of the body [source: Caplan]. The most common treatment is the application of a daily moisturizer to prevent more serious conditions from developing. But controlling flaky, scaly skin can be as simple as showering in cooler water or changing your cleanser. In fact, you can simplify your daily skin care regimen once you understand the causes and best treatments for dry skin.
Your outermost layer of skin, which contains protective oils, is your best defense against harmful drying elements like the sun and wind. But it's easy to strip the skin of these oils through exposure to the elements or by not using the appropriate skin care products. The cosmetics industry is a billion-dollar business, and there are many cleansers, lotions and creams on the market that boast unique formulas and great benefits. These products are designed for different parts of the body and incorporate various combinations of lubricating and cleansing elements. The number of choices can be overwhelming, so you must arm yourself with the right information to treat your dry skin. You may think one size fits all, but you need to understand what key ingredients will work best for you.
Read on to learn how to properly moisturize dry skin.

Moisturizing Ingredients 101

Many skin products contain a variety of acids, which can be confusing. Here's a look at some of the most common acids and what they do for your skin. Salicylic acid exfoliates and improves the color and texture of skin. Kojic acid lightens skin and prevents it from producing brown pigment. Alpha-hydroxy acid refers to a family of acids that decrease wrinkles, shrink pores and decrease the appearance of dark spots [source: The Cleveland Clinic].

Daily Moisturizing for Dry Skin

If it's difficult for you to maintain a daily moisturizing ritual, the culprit may be the 10 different creams you're using -- no wonder you're tired! Daily moisturizing doesn't have to be a complicated multistep process. Moisturizing can be as simple as keeping a bottle of baby oil in the shower to apply before toweling off, or it could be as easy as leaving a bottle of lotion by the sink for a quick dollop after washing. In fact, a good moisturizer is often all you'll need to make dry skin a thing of the past.
Oils are the key ingredients in lubricants that moisturize your skin, but not all lotions are created equal. A daily hand lotion may be all you need, but if your skin is extremely dry, try a lotion that contains shea, olive or cocoa butter. These ingredients further protect skin from dryness by holding in moisture and forming a barrier between the skin and outside elements like the sun and wind. Ointment moisturizers, lotions with a thicker consistency, are recommended for problem areas like heels and elbows.
If you have sensitive skin, washing too often or using the wrong cleanser can cause acne and conditions like dermatitis and eczema, medical conditions that inflame and irritate the skin [source: WebMD]. But there are plenty of gentle moisturizers designed for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Look for lotions labeled as noncomedogenic because these are less likely to clog pores. Moisturizers that contain mineral oil, avocado oil and primrose oil are gentle on sensitive skin. Using a lotion that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is also recommended because it protects delicate facial skin from the sun. Also, be aware that many age-defying moisturizers contain alpha-hydroxy acids, which can cause excessive drying [source: Bouchez].
You need to get rid of excess oil, but you don't want to dry out your skin. Read on to learn how to properly cleanse your skin.

What is Soap?

For centuries soap was made with a combination of lye and animal fat. [source: Oehlke]. This concoction was boiled until it created a brown, liquid soap and then salt was added to harden the mixture.

Daily Cleansing for Dry Skin

Think of your skin as a fine wooden table. The wood contains essential oils that are protected by a strong outer finish. If you scrub the table daily with a harsh cleanser, you'll strip away the protective coating, dry the underlying wood and cause cracks to appear. To take proper care of the table, you must use a special furniture cleaner and protect the tabletop from stains. The same amount of care should be given to your skin. The cleansers you use on your body affect the amount of moisture your skin retains. Harsh cleansers can be damaging to the outermost layer of your skin, just as an abrasive soap can be damaging to the table's finish [source: University of Iowa Department of Dermatology].
While it may seem counterintuitive, cleaning products can actually cause your skin to produce more oil, and using moisture-zapping soaps, astringents and toners can further damage and dry your skin. To avoid these problems, steer clear of antibacterial and deodorant soaps and choose body and facial cleansers instead. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin or combination skin with a mix of dry and oily patches.
If your skin is extremely dry, moisturizing cleansers can be used without water; however, water is essential to healthy skin and should play a role in your daily skin care regimen. Limit your showers to one 10-minute shower a day and keep the water temperature from getting too hot. Excessive bathing and exposure to extremely hot water can both dry your skin further [source: MayoClinic].
Prevention is the best medicine, so keep reading to learn how to protect your skin from dryness.

Did You Know?

Americans spend a lot of money on skin care products each year. Skin care, hair care and cosmetic lotions nabbed $8.9 billion in 2007 [source: Packaged Facts]. While marketers used to focus their efforts on baby boomers, millions of advertising dollars are now spent to catch the attention of teens and young adults.

Daily Protection for Dry Skin

If you're prone to dry skin, you can treat it -- and possibly even prevent it -- with a few simple tricks. First, line up your skin care products and read the ingredient lists. Then, consult the ingredients guidelines outlined on the previous pages and check to see if you're using the products properly.
Next, dissect how you cleanse your skin. If you take long, hot showers multiple times a day, stop that habit immediately. Make sure your bath soap is moisturizing -- not deodorizing -- because deodorizing soaps can strip your skin of its oils. After showering, you can seal in that moisture by applying baby oil to your skin before drying off. You can also liberally apply lotion to your skin before toweling off. Bothered by scaly feet? Apply lotion to your tootsies before bed and cover them with a pair of lightweight socks. The same trick is recommended for hands. Before washing dishes, apply lotion to your hands and slip on rubber gloves [source: Davis].

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