Market research studies reveal that the skin care industry anticipates sales of $121 billion in 2018. It is a huge industry, with creams and potions promising much and not always delivering. Practicing good skin health costs less and has a better payoff.
Practicing proper skin care now, in preparation for economic, natural, and governmental disasters, will pay off in the long run with overall better health. Our skin is our largest organ and is vital to survival and health. It protects everything inside our bodies, regulates temperature and water loss, communicates external environmental factors through the nerve endings, and is our first line of defense in environmental and chemical exposures. Maintaining healthy skin will pay off in large returns.
When we face day-to-day stress, our bodies, including our skin, will show signs. The typical first presentation of stressed skin is a rash, hives, redness, or itchiness. That can lead to scratching that itch, possibly breaking the skin and leading to the introduction of bacteria. Adrenaline causes decreased blood flow and, therefore, oxygen to the skin. A weakened skin barrier can lead to infections and injuries.
While most of us would say we have dry skin, that isn’t always true. Dry skin is defined by a lack or low production of oil (sebum). If you have any shiny spots on your skin, you have adequate sebum production. Dry skin may be helped by Omega 3 or Omega 6, which contain lipids that can increase sebum production. Clinically dry skin may require medical intervention to keep it healthy. Prescription moisturizers containing urea or lactic acid can be helpful.
In reality, a large portion of the population is dealing with dehydrated skin. This means that your skin is lacking water in its cells. This dehydration can occur because of medications, smoking, or UV exposure. Healthy skin will appear “dewy” and smooth, and it will be supple and bounce back when gently pinched. In contrast, dehydrated skin may appear dull, tight, and “crepe-ish” in appearance.
Good Skins Starts With Balanced Diet
Good skin care starts with a balanced diet. Vitamins A, C, E, H, and K are present in most food groups and in sufficient amounts to meet the needs of healthy skin. Fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are especially good for getting and maintaining healthy skin.
Keep your skin clean. True soap contains ingredients that may strip moisture from your skin. Non-soap products are generally gentler for your skin. Natural and organic, or straight off the grocery shelf, there are many schools of thought regarding cleaning products. You should use what leaves your skin clean but not feeling tight. Squeaky clean skin is over-cleansed.
Humectants and Occlusives
Dehydrated skin can be helped with humectants and occlusives. Humectants help skin attract and hold water. Natural humectants are honey, algae, and colloidial oatmeal. Occlusives lock moisture in by slowing down the evaporation rate. Beeswax, petrolatum, olive, coconut, or argan oil, and lanolin are examples of natural occlusives.
Keep hydrated as natural evaporation takes place in all climates and seasons, indoors and outdoors, and can be elevated by illness or stress. However, there are some studies that show the recommended eight glasses of water a day will not combat dehydrated skin. These studies show the greater influence is the environment, as in low indoor humidity. A humidifier can help; just be sure to follow the cleaning schedule suggested for your unit.
Exercise stimulates blood circulation, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Sweating helps to remove toxins from the skin and increases the production of sebum. Adequate rest allows a rise in growth hormones, which aid in skin repair.
Sunscreen and Skin Irritants
Use sunscreen every day, even the cloudy ones. See a dermatologist yearly for an exam of moles. Take note of any changes in moles.
Know about and protect yourself from skin irritants at work and home. Think twice about using public hot tubs, especially if you have an unhealed wound, even a small one. Wear long sleeves and pants to avoid bug bites and poisonous plants.
Check daily for bug bites and ticks. Thoroughly clean the area; don’t use hydrogen peroxide, as it kills skin cells. Plain soap and water are sufficient. Fingernail polish or an “after-bite” topical lotion will stop the itch, and keep you from scratching the area and causing further harm. Thorns and splinters should be removed as soon as possible, then cleaned. and covered. Any signs of infection (redness, fever, increased pain, pus) should be addressed by a physician.
The skin on our feet is mostly ignored but in need of the greatest care. Proper foot care is necessary for survival. Choose footwear wisely. Wash feet daily with an anti-bacterial soap and dry completely. Dead cells will accumulate if not removed daily, and bacteria feed on dead skin cells. Remove callouses with care; corns, bunions, and ingrown nails may need professional help. Moisturize daily, being careful to not use too much moisturizer between the toes, as this can lead to fungus growth. Remember that severely dry or dehydrated feet can lead to deep cracks and fissures, which can open and bleed, causing pain and possible infection. Foot powder or baking soda between the toes will also prevent the growth of fungus.
Keeping Feet in Good Shape While Bugging Out
Keeping your feet in good shape while bugging out isn’t difficult or expensive. Military studies have shown that soldiers function better on long treks if they have properly fitted shoes and are able to care for their feet in the field. The mental benefit of a dry pair of socks can’t be quantified. By keeping your mind off the pain in your feet, you are better able to maintain awareness of your surroundings.
Fixing Your Feet: Injury Prevention and Treatments for Athletes by John Vonhof is highly reviewed, and my quick perusal of it has convinced me to purchase it. This article offers some ideas on different shoe lacing patterns. Marathoners recommend Body Glide to prevent rubbing and blisters on feet, and to stop chafing on thighs, arms, and nipples.
Comfortable Shoes and Boots
Invest time to research supportive and comfortable shoes and boots. Find a real shoe store that can help you select properly fitted shoes. Running shops are usually very good at proper fitting. Socks are often an afterthought, but the material content of the sock can aid or inhibit moisture wicking. Make sure your footwear will allow you to wear two pair of socks. Proper footwear and socks can be expensive, but your feet will thank you in the long run.
In My Bug-Out Bag
In my bug-out bag, I carry moleskin, a pair of pantyhose (which the military have used to avoid chafing and blisters when walking long distances), work gloves, clean socks, powder, cleaning towelettes, sunscreen and bug spray, liquid skin, and a tick removal kit, just to mention a few. I recently found that petroleum jelly comes in a tube. It’s no mess to carry and can double as a fire starter.
At the End of Every Day On the March
At the end of every day on the march, clean your feet, dry them completely, then moisturize and apply powder between toes. A physical therapist recommended using a tennis ball to stretch and relax the arch. This is a welcomed treat after hiking all day. If you can, wear a different pair of boots or shoes the next day. And while the common thought is to not wear shoes while you sleep, there are tactical issues that must be taken into consideration.
Blisters on the hands or feet should be treated with care. Fight your impulse to pop the blister! The collected fluid is protecting the skin underneath. Allow the blister to dry and heal on its own. If the blister hinders walking or working, then pop the blister to relieve the fluid pressure (using clean equipment), but leave the skin, or roof, in place. Cover the roof with a bandage and keep it clean. If the roof is removed, keep a bandage on the wound until it is healed. Prevent the next foot blister with mole skin on the area prone to rubbing.
Treat your hands with care. Quit chewing your nails and cuticles, as this can introduce nasty bacteria into the skin. Use a rich hand cream to prevent winter chapping and cracks. I really like Working Hands by O’Keefe’s. It works quickly to repair cracks and prevents new ones. Use a “knife-proof” glove in the kitchen or in the field while dressing wildlife. Wear work gloves while working with wood. Remember that exotic-wood splinters need special care because they may become septic, and the splinters from some resin-producing domestic woods can easily become infected.
As we age, our skin becomes thinner, and as a result it’s more prone to injury. Skin tears are common in the elderly and may require medical attention. If you have elderly friends or family, keep your fingernails cut short to avoid an unintentional injury.
One last thought on wound care. The medical pendulum has swung away from letting wounds air dry and scab over. A wound kept moist with petroleum jelly, honey, or antibiotic cream should be covered. The presence of moisture allows skin cells to spread, leading to the wound closing quicker and with less pain. “Liquid skin” bandages will keep minor cuts moist, again aiding in quick healing. Colloidial silver and tea tree oil also show some benefit in skin healing.
As an advisory, these thoughts are in no way meant to diagnosis, cure, or treat any ailment. Heredity, ethnicity, and medical history play a huge role in your skin health, and you should always follow your doctor’s advice. Skin supplements are available, but please talk to your doctor about any medications you take, as some vitamin supplements can interact with prescriptions. In addition, I do not work for O’Keefe’s.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.