Dubai Health Authority women's skin
Image Credit: Supplied

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and therefore more than worthy of attention. In Dubai, the skin can be exposed to an environment where the weather can be hot and humid. Subsequently, without sufficient attention (and hydration), you can be left with dry or sensitive skin. Prolonged exposure to air conditioning can also lead to dry skin, affecting its ability to repair itself effectively and leading to premature aging.

Another side effect of living in a hot country is that the heat and moisture in the air causes sweating, which can lead to blocked pores and if too much sweat accumulates, pimples and acne can form.

Dr Suad Abdulrahman Ali, Specialist Dermatologist at DHA, says that acne can account for as much as half of the patients that visit her clinics. She also explains that environmental factors are just one of a number of potential causes of the skin condition.

“There are many factors that can cause acne but one of the common reasons is when people use cosmetic products that are comedogenic, which can be oily, block the pores and cause acne. Other factors can be genetic and hormonal.”

One of the other causes of acne can be the menopause, where hormonal changes can affect the skin. Another health issue that’s related to hormonal imbalance and that can cause acne is polycystic ovary syndrome.

In cases of acne, Dr Abdulrahman suggests avoiding products that block the pores of the skin and could potentially cause outbreaks. She also says that a sensible cleansing routine is important. “I recommend that people choose make-ups that are non-comedogenic and women should also regularly remove their make-up and clean their skin very well. Sometimes women suffer from oily skin and we advise them to wash more than once a day.”

She says that treatments for acne are assessed on an individual, case-by-case basis and are dependent on the severity the condition. “We treat patients according to the type of acne they have — mild, moderate or severe. In mild cases, where they have comedones [blackheads or whiteheads] we advise them to use oil-free cleansers. Sometimes we give patients topical creams and topical antibiotics but if the acne is severe nodulocystic acne, we can prescribe isotretinoin.”

One of the issues that women can find traumatic from acne is facial scarring but Dr Abdulrahman says that scars can be treated with laser once the condition has been controlled.

Lifestyle and hyperpigmentation

“One of the most important factors for healthy skin is a healthy diet. I also recommend sun protection, drinking lots of water to stay hydrated and exercise. A healthy diet not only affects the skin but the whole body. A healthy diet also has lots of important vitamins for the skin,” Dr Abdulrahman says. Women who want to care for their skin, as well as the rest of their body, are advised to avoid smoking and to follow a diet that isn’t too high in sodium.

It’s also advised to avoid caffeinated drinks if you’re in the sun for prolonged periods as they can be dehydrating. It’s also advisable to follow a low-sugar, low-glycaemic index diet.

In the case of hyperpigmentation, she says that it is usually caused by insufficient sun protection. “Hyperpigmentation is a dark pigmentation of the skin. It is mostly commonly caused by the sun when people don’t use proper protection. For treatment, we find the underlying cause and treat that before we treat the skin with topical bleaching agents.”

The condition occurs when an excess of melanin is produced in specific parts of the skin, causing discolouration. Vitamin deficiencies, genetic factors and hormonal changes can also cause the condition.

Sensitive skin

“A lot of women suffer from dry and sensitive skin, so they should use plenty of moisturisers,” says Dr Abdulrahman. “I would advise women with sensitive skin to look for good-quality moisturisers that are lanolin-free.”

Lanolin is a sheep’s wool product that is used as an emollient in the beauty industry. It is used for its ability to lock in moisture and prevent water loss but it can also cause irritation, especially for people who suffer from sensitive skin or allergies.

Whether its acne, hyperpigmentation or dry and sensitive skin, with sensible steps and a bit of attention it’s more than possible to enjoy vibrant and healthy skin and protect it from the elements while living in Dubai.