Help Your Skin Help You

Help Your Skin Help You

Help Your Skin Help You

Your skin has a big job. It shields your body and keeps out germs. And that’s just the start. It’s your body’s largest organ, and it deserves careful attention.

Help Your Skin Help You

Taking care of your skin is taking care of your health. Your skin is vital to your body in several ways:

  • It holds in fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • It keeps out germs.
  • It helps control body temperature.
  • It shields your body from light and heat.

Since your skin protects your body in many important ways, it's important to keep it healthy. To do that, the National Institutes of Health leaving site icon suggests that you:

  • Prevent or treat dry skin by using lotions and creams.
  • Use mild cleansers and wash gently — don’t scrub. And use warm water, not hot, for baths and showers.
  • Consider long sleeves and pants for protection against bug bites and cuts and scrapes.
  • Use insect repellant to avoid bites and stings.
  • Prevent cuts and scrapes with protective gear like gloves.
  • Care for a scrape or cut right away. Clean it and cover with a bandage while it heals.
  • Use sunscreen.
Sun Smarts

Too much sun is dangerous for your skin. You can get a painful burn and raise your risk for skin cancer later. To protect yourself from skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) leaving site icon recommends that you:

  • Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for water resistant, broad-spectrum protection.
  • Apply sunscreen generously before going outside. It takes about 15 minutes for your skin to soak it up.
  • Remember your neck, face, ears and the tops of your feet. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat. Don’t forget a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Care for Burns, Cuts and Insects Bites

The family that plays together may find itself dealing with skin injuries. Caring for them correctly is vital.

Burns on the skin can be caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sun or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns, says the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Burns can cause swelling, blistering and scarring. Burns also can lead to infections because they damage your skin's protective barrier.

Treatment for burns depends on the cause of the burn, how deep it is, and how much of the body it covers. For mild burns that cover a small area, the AAD says to:

  • Cool the burned area.
  • Put petroleum jelly on the burn two to three times a day. Don’t put ointments, toothpaste or butter on the burn. They may cause an infection.
  • Cover the burn with a nonstick, sterile bandage. If blisters form, let them heal on their own while keeping the area covered. Don’t pop the blisters.
  • If needed, you can take over-the-counter pain medicine. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Protect the area from the sun.

For more serious burns, seek medical treatment.

Cuts and Scrapes
Injuries that break the skin include cuts, scrapes and punctures. Minor wounds usually aren't serious, but it is important to clean them. Rinse the wound with cool water. Wash the area around it with soap, but don’t get soap in the wound.

To stop minor bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure using gauze. If blood soaks through, add more gauze, keeping the first layer in place. Continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops.

Serious and infected wounds may require medical help. You should also seek medical attention if the wound is deep, you can’t close it yourself, you can’t stop the bleeding, you can’t get the dirt and debris out, or it does not heal.

Stings and Bites
Stay safe from stinging insects by avoiding scented soaps and shampoos and brightly colored clothing. All can attract insects. When you’re outdoors, try to avoid being too close to things that draw insects, including stagnant water, food and blooming flowers.

Use insect repellent. And wash it off with soap and water when outdoor fun is done. Products with DEET can be used on the skin, but you may also want to try products without it. And be sure to look for kid-friendly products for children.

Headed out for a hike? To avoid ticks, stay on cleared trails as much as possible. Cover up your head, arms and legs. Wear close-toed shoes. When you’re back indoors, check for ticks on the skin. They may hide behind the ears or along the hairline. Be sure to remove them the right wayleaving site icon

Help relieve the itch from various insect bites with ice and a calamine lotion or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream.


Some common causes of a rash include:

  • Eczema: A red, scaly rash. It’s common in people with allergies or asthma.
  • Psoriasis: Scaly, red patches forming over joints or along the scalp.
  • Impetigo: Children commonly have this infection from bacteria on the top layers of the skin. It shows up as red sores or blisters that later crust over.
  • Poisonous plants: Plants like poison ivy, poison oak and sumac can cause allergic skin reactions. Symptoms include redness, swelling, blisters and itchiness.
  • Childhood illnesses: Chickenpox, measles, roseola, rubella, hand-foot-mouth disease and fifth disease all cause rashes.
  • Shingles: Caused by the same virus as chickenpox, shingles leaving site icon is a painful, usually itchy, rash that develops on one side of the face or body.

You can care for many rashes at home by using gentle cleansers and avoiding hot water and scrubbing. Then let the area air dry and consider an oatmeal bath product or medicated lotion or cream.

Talk to your doctor if the problem continues. See your doctor right away if you:

  • Have fever, sore throat or joint pain along with the rash
  • Have streaks of redness or swelling
  • Are taking a new medicine that causes a rash
  • Think you may have a tick bite
Sources: Skin Conditions, leaving site icon National Institutes of Health, 2023; How to Prevent Skin Cancer, leaving site icon American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD); How to treat a first-degree, minor burn, leaving site icon AAD; 12 Common Summertime Skin Rashes in Childrenleaving site icon American Academy of Pediatrics, 2023; Rash, leaving site icon Penn Medicine, 2022