Flaky, red, and itchy skin – those are just some of the things people with dry skin have to suffer through. It’s a common condition but is more common in people with a history of atopic dermatitis, allergies, asthma, eczema, hypothyroidism and hyperthyrodism. Dry skin can be further exacerbated by cold weather. It can also be caused as a side effect of certain medications. Gender doesn’t play a role in dry skin as it affects males and females equally but age is a factor. Mature skin is much more prone to becoming dry because as we age, our skin tends to produce less and less natural oils. Specific areas such as the arms, hands, and lower legs tend to be more prone to dryness.
Dry skin can last anywhere from a few days to weeks. In others, it can be a severe, long-term problem. There are however some simple but effective treatments and skin care regimens for dry skin. Basic prevention would be to steer clear of harsh and drying soaps and cleansers. Another basic treatment for dry skin is the regular use of moisturizers and emollients. Here are some tips for improving and caring for dry skin:
1. Moisturize. Skin moisturizers are the first step to battling dry skin. Moisturizers will rehydrate your epidermis while sealing in moisture. What should you look for in a moisturizer? They should contain humectants like ceramides, glycerin, sorbitol and lecithin which help attract moisture. Another set of ingredients to look for are petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil to help seal moisture within the skin. Emollients such as linolenic and lauric acid, meanwhile, smoothen skin by filling in the gaps between cells. The best time to put on moisturizer is within three minutes after getting off the shower when your skin is still slightly damp.
2. Exfoliate – but do so gently. Regular exfoliation, no more than once a week, is important for any skin type. However, dry and sensitive skin do need a gentler touch. Exfoliation will slough off the dead skin cells lying on the surface of the skin thus allowing the newer cells to come to the surface and ensuring that the moisturizer and other products you use will be able to penetrate and work on these healthy cells. You can also opt to use natural exfoliants such as yoghurt, papaya and pumpkin.
3. Drink enough water. Make sure you get those 8 glasses of pure water every day. Humans are made up of 70% water so you it’s important to keep your body –and your skin- hydrated. If you lead a much more active lifestyle, drink more. You should also stay away from alcohol and caffeine which act as diuretics and will dry you out.
4. Cut on the hot showers. Hot water can actually strip off your skin’s natural oils so limit your hot showers to no more than 5 minutes then switch to warm water instead. Make sure to wash with a gentle and fragrance-free cleanser and use only enough to remove dirt and oil. Try to avoid scrub brushes, sponges and washcloths to avoid damaging your skin.
5. Cover up. Finally, protect your skin from the elements. Sun, wind, heat and cold can all cause and worsen dry skin. Apply moisturizer before going out to battle with these elements. When it comes to clothing, make sure to use non-irritating textiles such as cotton or silk and stay away from rough textiles such as wool.
Dry skin isn’t a serious condition but if left alone, it may result in complications such as rashes, eczema, cellulitis, skin discoloration and even infections. Fortunately, it’s also a condition that you can easily remedy and following the tips above should help you greatly.