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10 common dermatology mistakes men make

Men and women have different concerns when caring for their skin, hair, and nails. Besides apparent differences like facial hair and male pattern baldness, testosterone causes men to have thicker, oilier skin than women. Men also have more and larger pores than women, have increased risk factors for skin irritation, and are more likely to develop skin cancer. Because of all this, the mistakes men often make when caring for their dermatologic health can differ from those women make.

So what are the common mistakes men make when it comes to dermatologic health?

10. Shaving incorrectly.

You're dry shaving. You're shaving too fast. You're running your razor in the opposite direction of hair growth. Your blades are dull. All of these bad habits lead to skin issues like irritation, cuts, and razor burns. If your razors are old, they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause infections.

Before you shave, you should cleanse with warm water and a face wash for your skin type. This will soften your facial hair and prevent ingrown hairs from forming. Because shaving creams can often dry and irritate the skin, it's essential to follow up with a moisturizer (ideally one with an SPF of 30+) for added comfort and protection.

9. Letting blisters form, and you're not taking proper care of them.

It's important to protect your feet while running or hiking. Prematurely popped or ripped blisters can easily lead to infection - especially when you're outdoors. Start by wearing moisture-wicking socks. Make sure you keep band-aids and moleskin with you when running long distances or heading out on a hike - and use them when your feet start to hurt. When you get home or in a location where you can rest, take the bandages off and allow the blister to "breathe" so it can dry up and heal faster. Do not pop blisters yourself; you will disrupt the skin's natural healing process.

8. Too rough with hair.

Rubbing your head vigorously with a towel when you get out of the shower? Brushing or combing it while wet? Stop. Beating up your follicles with too-tough hygiene can lead to hair thinning or hair loss. If you're already suffering from androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), it will speed up the process. Even if your hair is remaining in place, bad technique can irritate your scalp, leading to dryness and itchiness. It can even make conditions like eczema and psoriasis worse.

So what should you do? Gently pat the hair dry with a clean towel. If your hair is longer, start detangling from the bottom of strands, carefully moving towards the scalp. A hairdryer on a low setting is also a safe way to spare your strands from damage.

7. Ignoring nail fungus.

Thickening nails, yellow nails, and nails lifting from their beds are all signs of infection. Caused by both bacteria and fungi, nail infections are common. If left untreated, these infections can become painful and cause permanent damage. For those with weakened immune systems, they can even spread beyond the hands and feet. Be sure to wear footwear around pool areas and locker rooms, wash carefully and thoroughly after working in the dirt outside, and clean your bath and shower weekly.

6. Using wet towels off the bathroom floor (or keeping the same one in your gym bag).

Perpetually humid environments like bathrooms and gym bags are a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. That makes towels the perfect vehicle to transfer germs to the skin, causing rashes, breakouts, and infections. Rough towels make matters worse by irritating the skin, leading to flaking and breaks in the skin. For those with chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis, these bad laundry habits can lead to flares. Don't air your dirty laundry. Wash it. Clean towels frequently. Consider replacing any worn or scratchy towels with fresh, plush linens - especially if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin.

5. Not seeing a dermatologist for acne.

40% of men with acne do not seek treatment for their skin! It's a common misconception that it's a cosmetic issue. The truth is, acne is a medical condition and may require prescription medication to effectively clear. If left untreated, it can cause discomfort and scarring. Furthermore, acne can harm mental health, leading to depression and social anxiety.

4. Poor diet.

What you eat certainly shows up on your skin, hair, and nails. A well-balanced diet is essential for clear, vibrant skin. Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can leave skin looking sallow and cause hair to become weak and brittle. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates for optimal dermatologic health.

If you live with a chronic condition like psoriasis, rosacea, or eczema, your diet becomes even more relevant. Some foods may cause your condition to flare. Keeping a food journal and sharing it with your dermatologist is a great way to keep tabs on potentially triggering ingredients.

3. Smoking.

It's no secret that smoking is terrible for your health. When it comes to your skin, hair, and nails, it's no exception. Cigarette use leads to premature aging, accelerates hair loss, and causes nail discoloration. Beyond cosmetic consequences, smokers are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Our advice is simple. Quit!

2. Not wearing sunscreen.

Everyone should be wearing sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher every day. Take extra care to cover not just your face but your neck, chest, hands, and ears. Safeguarding your skin from the sun's harmful rays is essential in preventing skin cancer. And, gentlemen, as you age, you have a much higher risk of skin cancer. By age 65, men are twice as likely as women to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

1. Ignoring suspicious moles.

Early detection is key to surviving skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. Fortunately, it's highly treatable. Spotting a suspicious lesion is as easy as A, B, C, D, E:

  1. Asymmetry - one half of your mole does not match the other.
  2. Borders - the edges of the spot are uneven or blurred.
  3. Color - the lesion has several colors in it like black, brown, and red.
  4. Diameter - the spot is bigger than ¼ inch (the size of a pencil eraser).
  5. Evolution - your mole is changing colors, growing, or raising.

Remember, guys, dermatology is more than skin deep. It's critical to take care of your skin, hair, and nails to ensure good health. As always, if you have a question or concern, our dermatologists are available 24/7/365 to help.