In honor of Father’s Day, this is a special blog about men and their specific skincare needs.
We all know that men and women are very different, but did you know that men have a softer side, namely their unique skincare needs? Because of testosterone, hairiness, beards, and different “equipment” very unique to the masculine species, men’s skin-health needs are very different. Although many men believe they are the tougher and stronger sex of the two, their skin can actually be very sensitive and is exposed to unique challenges that women do not encounter as often or on a daily basis. Plus, outside of shaving, most men are not accustomed to the daily care that women devote and give to their own skin. Women pamper their skin, whereas men quite frankly simply just don’t think about it.
Let’s jump right in and talk about the unique skincare needs of our men.
- Beards and Shaving
Although women fight their own battles against the dreaded unwanted-hair issue, men fight this battle in their own distinctive way with the daily shaving and grooming of their beards, mustaches, and sideburns. But what goes along with this daily facial-hair grooming is a whole host of unique skin concerns like razor burn, folliculitis, ingrown hairs, and irritated skin. Additionally, if there is an underlying skin condition like acne or psoriasis, shaving can become a huge challenge, both health-wise and logistically. Then there is the electric-shaver-versus-the-wet-razor debate, where each has its own pluses and minuses. However, there is a silver lining to all of this shaving hassle. Oddly enough, all this shaving actually keeps our men’s skin younger looking because of the daily physical exfoliation of the dead skin layer while shaving the beard hair. It is not any wonder that dermaplaning has been getting a lot of attention recently in the female aesthetic industry because it utilizes this same basic technique. It is funny to think, but our men have been dermaplaning their facial skin all along without even knowing it, all the time, every day! No wonder many of our men stay looking younger without any effort at all.
Most men sweat more profusely and profoundly than women and are more susceptible to having body odor as well. As women, we all breathe a sigh of relief for this one small favor in life of being sweeter to the olfactory zones of the two sexes. From over-the-counter deodorants and antiperspirants to prescriptions, from Botox® for hyperhidrosis to Miradry®, the industry of “not sweating” is a lucrative one, and our men are definitely the primary consumers. In the office, I perform Botox® for hyperhidrosis not infrequently, and I have to admit that Botox® for this use is predominated by men.
- Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot
Let’s face it. Men just get more Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot than women. And yes, often it is because men and women have unique anatomic differences; men have extra “equipment” in the groin area that sets the skin environment up for this propensity to Jock Itch. Men also sweat differently and generally more profusely than women, have more numerous glands in these key areas, and are more hirsute which traps the moisture. The same goes for the male feet. All of this adds up to increased susceptibility to more profuse sweating, chafing, fungal infections, bacterial infections, and irritation. Preventative and maintenance measures are key here, like moisture-wicking underwear or socks, medicated absorbent foot and body powders, medicated or antibacterial cleansers, and topical medicated gels and creams. And if all else fails, a trip to your trusty dermatologist like myself may be your answer to a cure.
- Sun Damage and Skin Cancer
Since men are not accustomed to applying any creams or lotions on their faces at all, skin cancer on the face is a common occurrence in men. Men’s shorter hairstyles, lack of lip stick, lack of facial makeup, receding hairlines, and frank baldness translate to a predilection to cumulative sun damage and skin cancer on the ears, lips, faces, necks, and scalps respectively, much more so than in women. The key is education and a change in habit and lifestyle, so that sun protection becomes part of the daily routine. Women have been doing it all along to some extent with lipstick, makeup, and longer hairstyles, which, although done for the sake of fashion and beauty, are all inadvertently somewhat sun protective.
- Acne and Rosacea
Although it is true that women get rosacea more than men, and that acne can affect men and women equally, especially during the teenage and young adult years, it is likely to be more severe in men when they have either skin condition. Usually due to inherent hormonal differences, men can have more extensive and severe acne and rosacea than women. In acne, because it is the testosterone in both men and women that triggers the condition, men can demonstrate more cystic activity and deeper and more extensive lesions because of inherently much higher levels of this testosterone. With regards to rosacea, men are more susceptible to and twice as likely to develop rhinophyma, the chronic, scarring enlarging of the nose. Luckily, acne scarring and rhinophyma are not only treatable, but also very much preventable. Early intervention is critical in both acne and rosacea, before the more severe damage and scarring have taken a hold in the skin.
Although women also suffer from hair thinning and balding, men can start to experience it at a very much younger age, as early as the teens, and it can be significantly progressive and quite emotionally and socially devastating. Because this kind of hair thinning or balding, called androgenetic alopecia, is genetically based, it cannot be effectively slowed down and stabilized. Early therapeutic intervention may certainly help a great deal and allow a man to retain as much hair as possible for a longer period of time. Treatment options include OTC topical minoxidil, prescription oral finasteride (Propecia), oral supplements (Nutrafol®, Viviscal®, biotin), PRP scalp treatment, hair transplants, light treatment, and hair weaves.
- Facial Rejuvenation and Body Contouring
More and more men are seeking cosmetic treatments and aesthetic intervention to slow down and reverse the aging process and tweak their images. From brow grooming, waxing, facials, microdermabrasion, Bro-tox (Botox® for men), dermal filler like Juvederm®, Kybella®, chemical peels, laser photorejuvenation/IPL, laser hair reduction, and noninvasive body contouring (CoolSculpting®, BTL VanquishME™), men are jumping on the bandwagon to turn back the clock and look the best they can be. It is no longer taboo or a case of vanity that prevents our men from seeking the cosmetic help they want and need, and I am happy to help.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father figures in our lives! Happy, Healthy Skin!
–Dr. HThe Softer Side of Men