Our skin is the largest organ of our body and it is both versatile and amazingly complex. It is soft and pliable to allow us to move freely while also being tough enough to protect the parts of the body beneath it. It is also sensitive enough to allow us to feel through it; so sensitive that at times even the slightest irritation can cause a reaction on the skin.
The skin serves many functions including acting as a waterproof protective layer for our entire body, functioning as a cooling system for the body via sweat and as a sense organ allowing us to feel things like pain and pleasure, as well as temperature and pressure.
The skin is also a good barometer of our general health and signs of illness often are reflected in the skin and how a person looks.
At times, a problem with the skin is the first sign of a more serious condition – infections like measles and chickenpox may become apparent through a rash that is part of other harder-to-identify symptoms.
Inflammation of the skin, eczema and dermatitis, are two often chronic conditions that need special care.
People who suffer from such inflammation should consult with their community pharmacist about the best treatments available. Generally the use of soaps is discouraged and the pharmacy has a range of soap substitutes which may be better suited for people suffering from some skin inflammation conditions.
But rashes can be caused by any number of different products or situations.
When suffering from a rash it is important that it is properly diagnosed so its cause can be determined and a suitable treatment plan put into place.
Skin cancer of course is a major problem and is in fact the most common cause of cancer in Australia.
More than 2000 people die every year from skin cancer in Australia, yet most skin cancers are preventable and many can successfully be treated if they are detected early enough.
Detection is the key, and the skin itself puts out warning signs so learning to examine your skin is important.
It is recommended that a hand-held mirror be used to check the skin in areas which you cannot see normally such as the back and back of the neck. Areas such as the armpits, inner legs, ears, eyelids, hands and feet, fingers and toes also need to be examined.
Further, if you notice any change in colour or size of a mole, freckle or spot you should immediately see your health professional for advice.