Updated: Nov 13
Welcome back! Last episode, we talked about boosting immunity through nutrition. Hopefully you found a couple things you'd like to try out this coming Autumn.
Another way we protect our Wei Qi is through maintaining the integrity of our skin. Here's where the esthetician side of me chimes in. Your skin must be intact and preferably moist/plump for optimum immunity. (Not to mention how much better it looks!) Your skin is truly incredible. It is also your first line of defense in a couple of ways. The first is its physical barrier function. Cracks in the skin from dryness let in pathogens (bacteria and viruses). Second, your sweat mixes with the sebum (oil) in your skin to form what's called the "Acid Mantle"----which is not just a really great name for a metal band, it's a layer on top of the skin that is just slightly acidic, killing off cooties that come in contact with it. Picture the Wicked Witch of the West with water poured on her.
We want to keep our skin happy and intact. But how?
Increasing our fluid intake
Using a humidifier, if needed
Keeping showers closer to warm than hot
Using good cuticle cream
The first 3 are definitely ones you hear about every year in Good Housekeeping or Men's Health, but what about 4 and 5? Let's go a little more in-depth. There are two components to moisturizing: attracting moisture and trapping moisture. Humectants pull moisture from the air to themselves and thus into your skin. Great examples of this are glycerin and hyaluronic acid. If you have dry skin, you may want to apply these to attract moisture to your skin. Then we trap the moisture. Yes, there are a million fancy creams and lotions and I adore products, but consider using natural products. To trap moisture, all we need is a barrier. What stops water? Oil. You can use lighter weight oils such as jojoba or almond, or you can use sesame, olive or avocado oil. I have begun using (you guessed it) coconut oil. It's rich, I smell like summer, and it's not cold. Coconut oil is my big plan to combat dryness this coming Autumn and Winter because it doesn't spill and because oil doesn't really get cold like that bottle of body lotion on my bathroom counter. This increases my compliance because the one thing that stops me in my tracks is the thought of putting on cold moisturizer. Viva la coconut!
Cuticle cream can be a little trickier. Your cuticles are crucial. Your fingers encounter countless pathogens every day. Your cuticles are a tough and mighty barrier IF they are in good condition. Do not let your manicurist "nip" or cut your cuticles. Every day after your bath, gently push them back a bit with your towel. Keep them moisturized. You can carry tiny bottles of oil in your pocket or purse, or even buy a tiny jar and fill it with coconut oil or lanolin. My absolute favorite, bar none, hands down, cuticle cream is Qtica Intense Cuticle Repair Balm. As far as I'm concerned, it is the only cuticle cream. It does contain lanolin, so if you have allergies or objections to the use of lanolin, it's not for you. We will be carrying it in the clinic in the Fall. Shoot us a text if you're interested in some.
An additional idea that may be controversial on many levels is the use of Neosporin Ointment. No, I am not in any way prescribing this, as that would be out of my scope of practice, but if you have no objection to petroleum jelly or a small amount of antibiotic, having a little tube of Neosporin in Fall and Winter has saved my cuticles time and again. Sometimes we get hangnails. Sometimes those hangnails tear and genuinely hurt or even bleed. This, again, breaks our protective barrier.......on our HANDS, no less.......the hands we use to touch all the germs out there in the world. So, as my grandmother would say, "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'".
Thanks for tuning in for another episode. More to come soon!