Symptoms on this condition range in severity from minor irritation to extreme discomfort and even disability. When skin becomes too dry, the condition causes lines, wrinkling and fragility of the skin. What are the causes of dry skin and what can be done to treat and prevent this problem? In this article, we will explore major causes, treatment and prevention of this skin condition.
Is Dryness Of The Skin Usually Treatable?
There are some very serious conditions caused by the drying of the skin that can result in extreme stress and emotional unrest, as well as actual disfigurement of the skin. These disorders are known collectively as Ichthyosis. They are inherited and are quite difficult to treat.
Fortunately, the vast majority of dry skin problems are environmentally caused or caused by poor skin care habits and/or poor diet or nutrition. Additionally, as we age our skin tends to become drier. Luckily, these problems are often easy to treat with adjustments to lifestyle, skin care habits and diet.
What If Lifestyle Adjustments Don’t Work?
If balancing the diet, reducing excessive cleansing and adding the best moisturizer for dry skin care does not resolve severe skin dryness, it is a good idea to see your family physician. He or she may recommend treatment or provide a referral to a dermatologist.
When you go to see your doctor, it is a good idea to take along a list of concerns so that you will be sure of having all of your questions answered. Additionally, you should be ready to answer questions about your eating habits, the types of skin care and hygiene products, you use, and any conditions you may have that might be causing your skin problems. Among these are allergies and upper respiratory conditions such as asthma. Doing a little thinking and preparation before your appointment can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
You can expect your doctor to conduct a complete physical exam and gather a family history in search of clues as to the reason for your skin dryness. Your doctor may order some blood work tests to determine whether you have hidden conditions such as a thyroid problem that may be contributing to your condition.
If your doctor finds that your dry skin is caused by an underlying condition or is due to skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, it may be possible to treat your problem successfully with drug therapy; however, it is also highly advisable that dietary, lifestyle and hygiene improvements be explored. Eating properly and taking good care of your skin will support any medical intervention your doctor may recommend.
Change your lifestyle
Generally speaking, maintaining a whole foods diet that consists of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources will support good skin health. Be sure to include healthful oils in your diet to keep skin, hair and nails well nourished. Drink lots of pure, filtered water to keep your skin moisturized from the inside out. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages and soda as all of these tend to act as a diuretic robbing the body of moisture.
Many people experience dry skin because they bathe too often or use a soap or body wash that is too harsh. When this is the case, dry itchy arms and legs are common. Luckily, this kind of skin dryness is easy to treat. Be sure to bathe or shower regularly, but avoid the use of cleansers that will dry your skin. Understand that antibacterial cleansers and products containing fragrance are not necessary and are very drying to the skin and hair.
Use only natural, unscented products that are rich in essential oils and do not contain alcohol, petrolatum, mineral oil, sodium laurel sulfate and other unnatural, detrimental ingredients. Instead, use natural products from your kitchen shelves or seek out organic products that are composed only of natural, recognizable ingredients.
Handle your skin gently. While bathing or showering, just use your hands or a soft cloth to wash. If you scrub your skin with a rough cloth or scrubber, you will break down the natural oils and cause dryness. After bathing or showering, pat yourself dry gently with a soft, natural cotton towel. Follow up immediately with an all over moisturizer. You can choose a rich, natural body cream or use a simple, pure oil such as peanut oil or (if you are allergic to nuts) grape seed or olive oil.
What About Facial Moisturizing?
For younger people, facial moisturizing before bed may be adequate. As we age and skin become drier, moisturizing twice a day is preferable. Some people with very dry skin actually cleanse and moisturize the face with a natural blend of olive oil and castor oil.
You may find that this type of moisturizer is too heavy for your facial skin. To avoid dry skin on the face, try using natural aloe vera gel with just a drop of vitamin E oil added for light, effective moisturizing. Be sure to moisturize the skin around your eyes every night before bed with a light, pure oil. This will go far to keep this thin, delicate skin well moisturized and wrinkle free.
What Is The Best Way To Care For Dry, Cracked Skin?
In extreme cases, very dry skin may flake, crack or even bleed. This often happens on the feet. When this is the case, it is a good idea to soak the feet in warm water before bedtime, apply a rich moisturizer generously and wear cotton socks to bed to help the moisturizer soak in. On other areas of the body, applying a rich salve and a bandage may be necessary.
Remember that moisturizers that are natural oil based are more effective than those that are petroleum based or include drying agents like alcohol. A thick, rich cream that includes lanolin or a pure oil, such as peanut oil or olive oil is best.
This type of extreme dryness may also respond to an increase in dietary oils such as vitamin E oil, fish oil, flax seed oil and other natural, non-hydrogenated oils. It is also important to avoid using hydrogenated oils as they interfere with the benefits of natural, beneficial oils.
Avoid Environmental Causes of Dry Skin
Be sure to keep the air in your home well-hydrated by using a humidifier. Avoid blasting harsh central heating and air conditioning. Keep the fans turned to low and only heat or cool to the amount necessary for comfort. If you overheat or keep your home excessively cold, it is stressful to your skin and body.
Outdoors avoid excessive exposure to heat and cold and to the rays of the sun. Always dress appropriately to protect your skin against the elements. Use a sunscreen when you expect to be in the sun for an extended period of time. Always moisturize your skin appropriately before exposure to cold, dry air.
Dress Comfortably And Naturally To Avoid Dry Skin
Another environmental irritant that many people do not think of is clothing. If you have sensitive, dry skin be careful not to choose clothing, towels and linens made of irritating, scratchy fabric. Stick to natural, organic cotton, lightweight rayon, silk and other natural fibers that are soft and free of irritating prickliness. Be sure to wash and dry your clothing, linens and towels using only natural, fragrance-free products.
You may be surprised to know that pure white vinegar works very well to both clean and soften clothes. The vinegar smell dissipates during the washing and drying process, especially if you hang your clothes out in the sunshine to dry!
Even Hereditary Dry Skin Can Be Managed With Smart Lifestyle Choices
It can be caused by heredity, illness, poor skin care habits, poor diet, environmental irritants or any combination of these factors. No matter what is causing dryness in your skin, you can exert a positive effect by taking control of your diet and skin care habits and making sure your environment is free of irritants. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and make responsible, smart skin care choices on your own to treat or avoid problems with dry skin.
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