Why Skincare Is Important

Your skin is your armor. Afterall, skin is the body’s largest organ, and part of its purpose is to serve as a barrier and protect us from the environment. That includes dangerous substances like toxins, germs, and bacteria.

To keep our “armor” effective, we need to protect it from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Furthermore, healthy skin helps to regulate body temperature and keep us comfortable.

Good skin also has a mental health component. It can improve our appearance and self-esteem. Dry, dull, or blemished skin can make you feel self-conscious and affect your confidence.

Luckily, simple habits will keep you looking and feeling good.

Tips for Healthy Skin

Good skin care doesn’t have to involve a complex routine. Basic steps go a long way to giving your skin the pampering it deserves, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Protect it — The sun is one of the leading causes of skin damage and aging. To protect your skin, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and a hat, and seek shade when the sun is strongest — between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Hydrate it — Keeping your skin hydrated is essential for a healthy complexion. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and use a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type.
  • Be gentle — Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, are the building blocks of a good skincare routine. Avoid using harsh products when cleansing. They can strip your skin of its natural oils. Use a toner to help balance your skin’s pH and a moisturizer to hydrate.
  • Sleep — Sleep is important for overall health, including the health of your skin. During sleep, your body repairs itself, including your skin. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to help your skin look its best.
  • Eat right — What you eat has a direct impact on your skin. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and excessive sugar, which can cause inflammation and breakouts.
  • Don’t smoke or drink too much — Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on the health of your skin. Smoking can cause premature aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and a dull complexion, while excessive alcohol consumption can dehydrate the skin and lead to redness and puffiness.
  • Relax — Remember that your skin is an organ and stress can trigger negative responses. In the case of skin, that includes breakouts and other problems. Maintain a healthy state of mind, set reasonable limits, and do things for yourself.

The Why of Skin Care

Taking care of your skin is important for both physical and emotional reasons. Your skin can regenerate, to a degree. Still, it’s the only skin you have, and the effects of harmful habits can appear years down the road. That is why it’s so important to take good care of yourself, and your skin.

We — Like Your Skin — Have You Covered

AltaMed is your source for comprehensive health care. Medical, dental, and behavioral health services are available all in one place. We have care for infants, children, adolescents, adults, men, women, seniors, all in your language and provided by people from your community. Call us at (877) 462-2582 to find out more.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Skin Cancer

Everyone Needs Protection from the Sun

A problem with any of your organs is troubling. Heart, liver, kidney, or lung issues would be a cause for alarm. 

That doesn’t seem to be the case with skin. It’s the body’s largest organ, but we’re often dismissive of taking better care of it. That is probably why skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.

In truth, caring for your skin is easy. As the summer heats up, here’s how to protect yourself against sunburns and identify unusual growths or marks that could be cause for concern.

Woman Putting on Sunscreen

Treating a Sunburn

Maybe you forgot to put sunscreen on your shoulders, or you didn’t reapply in time. Despite our best efforts, sunburns do happen. Here are some tips for treating the damage to your skin:

  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain, headache, and fever.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Soothe burns with cool baths or by gently applying cold, wet cloths.
  • Use a topical moisturizing cream or aloe to provide additional relief.
  • Do not expose the burn area to sunlight until the burn has healed.
  • If your skin blisters, lightly bandage or cover the area with gauze to prevent infection. Do not break blisters as that would slow healing and increase your risk of infection. If blisters do break, apply antiseptic ointment.

Seek medical attention if you have a severe sunburn, especially if it covers more than 15% of your body, are dehydrated, have a high fever, or are in extreme pain that lasts more than 48 hours.

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells on the epidermis — the outer layer of skin. It is triggered by overexposure to ultraviolet rays from either the sun or tanning beds. 

Protecting skin with sunscreen, a hat, or covering up with clothing are among the best methods for protecting against skin cancer. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended for everyone, no matter your complexion or how much time you expect to spend in the sun. 

One in five adults will develop one of the following types of skin cancer before they turn 70: 

  • Basal cell carcinoma 
  • Melanoma 
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancer 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin 

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is one of the most common forms of skin cancer. It starts in a specific type of cell that produces new skin layers as the old skin layers die. 

It’s most common on the face, head, and neck since they get the most exposure to the sun. Basal cell carcinomas most often appear as: 

  • A shiny skin-colored bump 
  • A lesion that’s black, brown, or blue 
  • A flat, scaly patch 
  • A white, waxy, scar-like lesion 

See your doctor if these ever appear on your skin. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is also a very common form of skin cancer. This develops from cells in the middle and outer layers of skin. It’s caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 

While not usually life threatening, it can be aggressive and spread to other squamous cells which are found in multiple places on the body. This includes places NOT exposed to sunlight. 

Symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include: 

  • A rim, red nodule 
  • A flat sore with a scaly crust 
  • A raised area or sore on an old scar 
  • A rough, scaly patch on the lip that becomes an open sore 
  • A rough patch or red sore inside the mouth 
  • A wartlike sore on the anus or genitals 

See a doctor if you develop a sore that won’t heal after a couple of months. 


This is the most serious type of skin cancer and forms in the cells that create melanin or skin pigmentation. Melanoma risk is increasing for people under 40, especially women. The exact cause is unclear, but exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning lamps increases the risk. 

Melanomas can develop anywhere, including places not exposed to the sun, like the soles of the feet, palms, or fingernail beds. These “hidden” melanomas are much more common in people with darker skin. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Changes in a mole 
  • A new pigmented growth on the skin 

Dermatologists recommend using the letters “ABCDE,” to help identify moles that may be melanomas or other skin cancers. 

  • A is for asymmetrical shape 
  • B is for irregular border 
  • C is for changes in color 
  • D is for diameter 
  • E is for evolving 

Nonmelonoma Skin Cancer

This includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous along with about six others that form on other parts of the skin. 

Skin cancer can be successfully treated with surgery for removal. But patients who believe they have cancerous cells on their skin need to contact their doctors immediately. Left untreated, skin cancer can spread and be fatal. 

Protecting the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the BEST way to prevent skin cancer. 

Doctor Checks Patient Skin

Check Your Skin

Early detection of skin abnormalities is the best way to identify, then develop a treatment plan to prevent skin cancer from spreading. This improves the chances of treating or even curing it. 

The best way to stay healthy and make sure you are getting the screenings you need is to get regular health checkups. Depending on your personal and family health histories, your doctor may recommend additional screenings for you. 

Contact AltaMed at (888) 499-9303 for more information about the health screenings you need.  

Breaking Cigarette Stop Smoking

It’s Never Too Late to Stop Smoking

Most people know that smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Still, quitting is really hard for anyone who has been smoking for a long time. The nicotine in tobacco is a drug and, like many drugs, it is addictive.

However, quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself, no matter how old you are. It’s always a good time to stop smoking.

Man with Cloud of Smoke on the Face

Ending Decades of Damage

It seems the older someone is, the less likely they are to try to stop smoking. Not only is it a difficult addiction to manage, some people have the mindset that if the damage has been done, why bother quitting?

For one thing, you will live longer.

More than 160,000 people over the age of 70 completed a questionnaire about their smoking habits as part of a diet and health study from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health.

Those surveyed who didn’t smoke lived longer than those who did. However, those who had quit at some point, still lived longer than those who continued to smoke.

The longer they had gone without smoking as much as doubled their chances of living longer than someone who smoked.

Long-Term Hazards

Smoking dramatically increases your risk for many serious diseases, and it’s responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S. each year. It leads to:

  • Lung disease — Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two conditions that make it hard to breathe.
  • Heart disease — Smoking increases the chance of heart attack or stroke.
  • Cancer — Smoking not only leads to lung cancer, it can also cause cancer of the bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidneys, larynx, liver, mouth, and pancreas.
  • Respiratory problems — Smoking makes it harder to recover from COVID-19 and leaves you more susceptible to the flu, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections.
  • Osteoporosis — Smoking limits your body’s ability to absorb calcium which could lead to weaker bones.
  • Eye disease Smoking can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, an eye diseases that causes vision loss, and even blindness.
  • DiabetesSmoking increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and, if you already have diabetes, smoking makes it more difficult to manage. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and amputations.

Besides these very serious conditions, smoking can contribute to sagging skin – not only on your face but all over your body, age spots, stains and damage to your teeth, and accelerated hair loss.

Senior Adult Woman at Doctors Office

Immediate Benefits

Stubbing out your last cigarette yields results almost immediately and the benefits add up the longer you remain tobacco free.

  • 20 minutes later — Heart rate returns to normal
  • 12 to 24 hours later — Carbon monoxide level in blood returns to normal. Heart attack risk drops.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months later — Heart attack risk dramatically drops. Lung function starts to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months later — Decrease in coughing and shortness of breath.
  • 1 year later — Coronary heart disease risk drops up to 50%.
  • 5 to 15 years later — Stroke risk reduced to that of someone who hasn’t smoked. Risk of mouth, throat, and esophagus cancer is half that of someone who still smokes.
  • 10 years later —Risk decreases for cancer of cervix, larynx, kidney, or pancreas. Risk of dying from lung cancer or getting bladder cancer is half of those who still smoke.
  • 15 years later — Risk of coronary heart disease is the same as someone who doesn’t smoke.
Male Hand Destroying Cigarettes

Don’t Give Up

One major hurdle to quitting is going through withdrawals: symptoms include restlessness, irritability, anxiousness, or tension. It might be hard to sleep or you may feel drowsy during the day. Even though withdrawal symptoms can be severe, they usually pass within two weeks.

As much as possible, avoid the situations or triggers that made you want to smoke, such as feeling stressed out or drinking alcohol or coffee.

To help deal with cravings, recommends the following:

  • Drink water — Six to eight glasses a day
  • Deep breaths — Take a few of these when you feel like smoking
  • Delay smoking — The urge usually lasts a few minutes so meditate to resist the immediate urge
  • Distract yourself — Suggestions include:
    • Read
    • Change your routine
    • Try substitutes like carrots, sugarless gum, or breath mints
    • Exercise
    • Call a friend

Our Doctors Can Help

For many people, willpower alone is not enough. Your doctor can prescribe medications, offer advice, and provide support as you work to kick the smoking habit.

If you’re a caregiver or a senior who wants to stop smoking, or just live a healthier life, AltaMed offers coordinated care and services, including medical treatment, physical therapy, and social services.

For more information about services or eligibility, visit or call (855) 252- (7223).

Why Skincare Is Important