Body, Bath & Beauty Blog

Treating and Preventing Dry Skin

Posted on: January 7, 2011

In the winter, when environmental humidity is low, it’s easy for many of us to get dry itchy skin. It can happen to anyone regardless of other skin conditions. Fine lines can be more apparent, and your skin feels rough and looks dull or flaky, and you may have a rough texture. Arms and legs are the most common parts of the body for dry skin, but the whole body can be affected by the itching and irritation of dry skin.

To understand skin we must consider that it is made of many layers, and the outer most layer works like plastic wrap does to keep food fresh. This layer, called stratum corneum, is made of dead skin cells and oils (lipids specifically) that are produced by the underlying, living layers of skin. These oils keep water from escaping our skin into the air, and also keep irritants and germs out. The oils and dead skin cells together hold water in the stratum giving skin its healthy texture. When that water escapes, we get dry skin. This can happen when the oils are lost somehow. The stratum shrinks as it dries out and that makes those small cracks.

When treating dry skin it is important to to address the factors that may be causing your skin to be dry. Water itself, especially when hot, can actually removes those oils you need and worsen the condition, even though you need it. Throw soap in there and you have the greatest thief of natural skin oils. So what do you do, stop bathing? No, no, no… the best thing you can do for dry skin is to act fast when you get your skin wet, like after taking a shower. Applying a moisturizer after bathing will contain the water in the stratum. If you can get some minerals in there during the process you’re really golden! Most importantly though is the oil in the moisturizer. Ointments and greasy moisturizers do work, but are not the most pleasant of choices. Lotion moisturizers are the least greasy of dry skin treatments, and therefore usually considered the most pleasant to use.

Bathing Tips for Preventing & Treating Dry Skin:

  • For adults, take a shower rather than a bath
  • Shower with warm, not hot, water and use soap only when and where needed (ie. underarms, groin, feet and face)
  • Pat dry with a towel, do not rub
  • Apply moisturizer within three minutes of showering.  Don’t let the water evaporate!
  • Reapply moisturizer liberally throughout the day. Focus on problem areas. If it’s itchy, it need moisturizer.

 

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