Understanding and Caring for Your Dry Skin

Your skin is exposed to many external and internal factors, which are sometimes responsible for skin disorders. In most cases, dry skin is caused by weather changes. The skin is driest during the cold season due to low temperatures and humidity levels.

How to tell you have Dry Skin

Dry skin feels scaly, chapped and cracked. Sometimes it may also have sore, raw and squeezed. It is also tightly drawn over the bones, giving it a dull look, especially around the eyes, cheeks and corners of the mouth.

Dry skin has a low level of sebum and can be prone to sensitivity. It will often have a dried up look caused by its inability to retain moisture. It usually feels taut and uncomfortable after washing unless some type of moisture or body cream is applied.

Dryness is made worse by wind extremes of temperature and air-conditioning, all of which cause the skin to flake, chap and feel tight.

What causes Dry Skin?

Sebum, an oily substance released by the sebaceous glands, is responsible for keeping the skin moist, supple and waterproof. It forms a barrier on the surface, which helps in retaining water and keeping irritants out of the body. When your body becomes dry, these natural oils are not effectively produced, so the barrier cannot adequately perform its functions. Poor diet may also contribute to dryness. Eating foods rich in vitamin A and B is helpful as they contain nutrients that prevent your body from drying.

Exposure to sun, wind, cold, chemicals, or cosmetics, or excessive bathing with harsh soaps may lead to a dry shell. This is because such harsh elements disrupt the outer layer of the body and destroy the intercellular medium. Conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea could also lead to dryness as can the use of drugs like diuretics, antispasmodics, and antihistamines.

Other catalysts include smoking, central heating, poor ventilation, dry, cold and windy weather and unprotected exposure to the sun. Loss of oestrogen during menopause also reduces the lipid content of skin, which eliminates its natural protection against dryness. However, this dryness could sometimes be a genetic condition.

Caring for Dry Skin

• Avoid using tap water when cleansing your body. The deposits are too drying on your skin. Instead, use a cleansing oil or cream and remove with a toner

• A dry body needs plenty of thorough but gentle cleansing, regular stimulation with massage and generous quantities of oil and moisture

• Do not wash body using soap and water because it not only removes dirt but also the natural oils protecting the body’s shell.

• Follow a bath or a shower with a mild application of baby oil. Moisturize your body after cleansing to keep it from drying.

• Stay out of overheated rooms

• Use a creamy cleanser or baby oil at night

• Use a facial mask to clear up the surface and remove dull, dry surface cells once a week

• Increase your water intake if your skin is chapped or cracked

• Avoid smoking. Smoking has a harmful effect on the skin. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels that serve the various body parts, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients needed for good health

• Stay out of the sun as it causes dryness, wrinkles, rashes and blisters. Always apply a good sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body if you must be in the sun

• Eat a balanced diet that included vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts. Speaking of nuts, however, watch your intake on some foods as they may be harmful to your health if eaten in large amounts. Eat quality protein from vegetable sources. Garlic, onions, eggs, and asparagus are high in Sulphur, which helps to keep the skin smooth and youthful.

• In severe cases of dryness, consider seeing a dermatologist