Dry skin can be very unpleasant for a wide array of reasons. Not only does it look and feel rough, but it can also produce a large amount of irritation, itchiness and even flakiness. Taking care of your body both on the inside and the outside will ensure that you combat dry skin so you can get back to walking around with smooth skin that does not make you feel uncomfortable.
Knowing what happens physiologically is the first step in your mission to combating dry skin. Prevention is the key.
It all comes down to the health of the top layer of the skin. This layer is made up of a series of specialised cells that actually move up through the skin where they eventually die and are shed from our skin surface. These specialised skin cells are held together by lipids, or fats, and it is these lipids that protect your body from the external environment. It keeps the water in and the nasties out.
If you lose the lipids then you lose your protection giving your skin a dry appearance.
There are lots of contributing factors that can cause your skin to have less of these lipids, thus becoming dry, itchy and flaky.
Have you ever wondered why exactly your skin is dryer in winter than in summer? Well, one reason is that the humidity drops in the air and so water is drawn out from the skin. Cold winds act to further dry out your skin. And when it’s really cold outside, you turn on the heater – right? Well this too draws out the moisture from the air and dries out those lipids in your skin.
Some medications can cause dry skin and these include blood pressure pills and a treatment for acne called isotretinoin.
You might think that your coffee is drying out your skin. Whilst caffeine is a diuretic that can increase sweating, in reality it probably is not doing a a great deal towards drying out your skin.
- If you are suffering from dry skin then you will likely want to sort this out. Some of the best treatments to improve the quality of your skin include:
- Mild soaps for sensitive skin
- Creams that are more oil based rather than water based. So this means that you should opt for a product called an ‘ointment’ rather than a ‘lotion’
- Applying your creams to slightly damp skin to lock in the moisture.
- Avoiding harsh perfumed products or products with lots of preservatives and colours.
- Using products designed for certain areas such as heel balms for dry cracks on your feet as these are designed for thicker skin. Consider using a lip balm for the lip area as well.
You’re probably asking, is there any way I can avoid dry skin in the first place? Well yes, in fact, there is! Moisturise your skin on a regular basis – try morning and evening. Use a mild liquid soap to wash your body in and then avoid hot areas such as saunas and sitting in front of the heater. Try to stay away from toners, peels, astringents and masks if you have sensitive skin.
Finally, don’t forget, if you’re traveling, keep up the moisturiser every few hours and drink plenty of water.
If you’re still having trouble with dry skin despite all of this then its time for a visit to the Dermatologist.
Feel free to call Northern Sydney Dermatology on (02) 9958 1555 if you’re in Sydney, Australia for an appointment.