Dry skin can be a serious problem in our dry Colorado climate, especially in the winter when the air holds less moisture. Severely dry skin, sometimes called xerosis makes skin look dull and flaky and is often very inflamed. Dry skin can be itchy, and become cracked and fissured leaving us more prone to infection. It can also lead to rashes, eczema and skin discoloration.
Dry skin results when lipids (oils) in the skin are depleted and the water content in the stratum corneum layer of the skin decreases. Skin just doesn’t function properly when there is not enough water in the stratum corneum. As we age, some of the lipids in the skin decrease making it more difficult for the skin to hold water resulting in dry skin. Others who are more prone to dry skin are healthcare workers and those in food preparation because they wash their hands more often which depletes the lipids.
Here are some tips to help deal with and prevent dry skin.
Some tips include:
1. Drink more water. It is easier to hydrate the skin from the inside out.
2. Exfoliate, but just a little. Moisturizers can soak into the skin easier when the dead layer of skin on the outside is removed. Too much exfoliation however can damage skin.
3. Decrease the length and temperature of your showers. Now I know a very long, hot shower feels great when it is blustery outside, but hotter and longer showers can remove more of the natural protective oils from the skin causing more water loss.
4. Moisturize. There is a tendency with some to use just oils and butters on dry skin, but I recommend a moisturizer that contains water. When moisturizing we are trying to put water back into the skin and only water can ‘moisturize’. A heavier product rich in oils though is good to help prevent water loss from the skin. I also look for products that have some kind of protein because that too will coat and protect the skin.
5. Use a non-drying Soap. Some commercial soaps and deodorant soaps can be harsh and strip oil from the skin. Hand crafted soaps are usually moisturizing and contain an excess amount of oil for protection. Ask you soapmaker if they ‘superfat’. I particularly like shea butter soaps.
6. Look for beneficial skin care ingredients. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are good ingredients to have in your skin care products. Look for things like botanicals, green tea, vitamins and allantoin.
7. Wear gloves. Wearing gloves on your hands can help prevent the cold and the wind from pulling moisture from your skin.
8. Facial Hydration. Use a hydrating facial mister throughout the day as necessary to keep the face hydrated.
9. Improve your diet. What you eat is as important as what you put on your skin. Remember to get healthy oils in your diet like olive oil and almonds.
10. Use a humidifier. If necessary, a humidifier in the bedroom while you sleep can work wonders.