Quick Dermatology Tips

By Lt. Cmdr. Josephine Nguyen, MD, FAAD Department Head of Dermatology, Naval Hospital Bremerton

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I specialize in how to take care of our skin, and to deal with acne, skin cancer, rashes, and dry skin.

From far reaches of the sea to extreme locales ashore, Sailors and Marines are constantly exposed to the elements on their wide-ranging jobs. From the sun and wind to salt-spray and sand, such conditions impact everyone and can cause unknown damage to anyone’s skin.

I specialize in how to take care of our skin, and to deal with acne, skin cancer, rashes, and dry skin.

USS HARPERS FERRY
Sailors and Marines are constantly exposed to the elements on their wide-ranging jobs. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Skin is the largest and fastest growing organ of the body. It’s important because it keeps you warm when it’s cold outside, cools you down when you get hot, and keeps bacteria and viruses from entering the body, as long as there are no cuts or open wounds.

The best part of my job is getting to know my patients as well as their families, and teaching them how to take better care of their skin.

Skin is the most visible organ of the body, and any problem with it greatly impacts a patient’s quality of life.  Any treatment I provide has the potential to significantly enhance someone’s quality of life and hopefully positively influence their outlook on life.

Skin care is a responsibility not just for those on deployment. It’s also applicable to family members.

By adhering to the surgeon general’s top three priorities of Navy Medicine, Readiness, Value and Jointness, my goal in the next year, as the sole Navy dermatologist in the Pacific Northwest, is to increase the leverage of telehealth to expand dermatologist capabilities throughout the Puget Sound area.

Telemedicine has already been heavily used by military dermatologists as well as academic dermatologists. I hope to use my experience in this area to provide increased responsiveness to our constituents which will increase the value and readiness of Navy Medicine.

Skin is important because it keeps you warm when it’s cold outside, cools you down when you get hot, and keeps bacteria and viruses from entering the body, as long as there are no cuts or open wounds.U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer A. Villalovos)

Quick Tips

What is the best way to prevent early aging of your skin?
Avoid sunburns and wear sunscreen 365 days a year.  This prevents sun damage that could result in wrinkling, age spots and potentially skin cancer.

What sunscreen should you get?
Get a broad spectrum sunscreen (protects against UVA and UVB) that has an SPF 30 or higher, and is water resistant.

Pull that petroleum jelly out of your drawer!
This common product is great!  It is inexpensive and can be used in multiple ways for skin care including: moisturizing cracked hands, feet, lips and peeling nails; helping kids’ scrapes heal quicker; diaper ointment

If I get acne, is it better to wash your face as often as possible?
NO!Washing your face too often can dry your skin and lead to irritation.  Wash your face in the morning and at night, and after sweating heavily.  Perspiration can be irritating to the skin and worsen acne. Wash your face with a gentle non-abrasive cleanser, pat dry, and then apply a facial cream.

Why does my skin get dry in the winter?
Long, hot showers can dry your skin.  To limit drying of your skin, limit the amount of exposure to hot water.  Apply a moisturizer to damp skin as soon as you get out of the shower to lock in the moisture.

Skin care is a responsibility not just for those on deployment. It’s also applicable to family members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nikki Smith)

What about those nice smelling moisturizers that cost extra money?
Beware!  A more expensive skin care product is not necessarily more effective. The fragrances in some brands may actually cause skin irritation. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to use a bland, fragrance free emollient.

How do I decrease my risk of getting an infection at a nail salon?
Consider bringing your own manicure/pedicure tools.  Also, shave your legs after getting a manicure, not before. Or wait 24 hours after shaving before getting a manicure.  A nick in your skin can predispose you to getting an infection.