Skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s the greatest protective barrier we have, so its essential to keep your skin in the best condition possible. Even though we are surrounded by products and moisturizers around us, dry skin is still a very common skin condition that many of us deal with, have dealt with, or will deal with. Not only is having dry skin disheartening, but if not treated it can lead to other problems.
Some of the problems you can face if dry skin is not treated properly:
1. Itching – probably the most complained about symptom from people who have dry skin. Itching can be very uncomfortable and painful. Its an uncontrollable urge to scratch repeatedly and can lead to even more problems. I know its hard to fight the urge, but you have to STOP ITCHING!!
2. Infections – this actually results from scratching again and again. Even though scratching might feel good at that moment, you are actually causing your skin to break and nothing good can come out of exposed skin. Breaks in skin are prone to bacteria, which leads to infections. So remember this when you have an urge to itch. Just FIGHT THE URGE!!
3. Thickening and darkening of skin – this again results from repeated scratching. Frequent trauma to the skin forces the skin to heal itself by generating a thicker barrier. Traumatized skin results in increased production of melanin, which leads to darkening of skin.
4. Older looking skin – dry skin naturally looks older. Moisturized and hydrated skin appears younger and healthier than dry skin.
Dry skin can be a result of many factors. It can be due to old age, cold weather, shower and hand washing habits, drugs, or underlying medical conditions.
Here’s what you can do to help your skin:
1. Moisturize – we have all read and heard about this a million times. Moisturize moisturize moisturize. I think the problem is not the lack of moisturizing, but how you do it and when you do it. I can not emphasize on this enough. The timing in moisturizing is crucial. Every second that goes by from the time you are done showering or washing your face, more moisture is lost from your skin. To get the most out of a moisturizer and help your skin, you have to lather it on as soon as possible to lock in the moisture. Try using petroleum jelly if you deal with severe dry skin or your favorite moisturizer should work if used properly. I personally use Nivea and Bath & Body works aromatherapy line. They smell so good and help me destress.
2. No more hot showers – I am the biggest fan of hot showers, but they end up being my skin’s worst enemy. Hot showers, especially long ones rid our skin of its natural oils. Try warm or cold showers.
3. Harsh soaps – use a mild soap or face wash to avoid any harm to your skin. Skin that is prone to being dry has to be taken care of gently. Harsh soaps rid the skin of natural oils leading to dry skin. So make sure your soap/face wash are gentle and natural.
4. Scrub-a-dub is a no no – Even though scrubbing your skin helps in exfoliation, it can result in dry skin if done too often. Try to limit scrubbing to once a week or once in every two weeks. Use a gentle cleanser instead. I use Philosophy’s Purity, which isn’t for dry skin but I haven’t had any problems with it yet. You can try their Back to Nurture line which is more suitable for dry skin.
5. Limit yourself – If you have dry hands, limit your hand washing and moisturize every time afterwards. Wash your face twice a day using mild face wash. Only take short cold/warm showers.
6. Find the right toner – Make sure you are using a water based, alcohol free toner. Most toners contain alcohol which cause your skin to dry up even more. You don’t have to say goodbye to toners all together, just find the right one.
If you have tried everything and still suffer from dry skin, make an appointment with your doctor as dry skin can be due to various underlying medical or dermatological conditions.
*References: This post was created from the knowledge I have gained from medical school, dermatology internship, studying for board exams, and American academy of Dermatology.