Your skin is the largest organ in your body and serves as the barrier between everything inside and the great wide world outside. One of its functions is to hold in moisture, but for many people, excessively dry skin is the norm.
Our team of expert aestheticians at Pure Touch Skin Center understands that even though dry skin may be uncomfortable and an eyesore, it isn’t medically dangerous. Nevertheless, optimizing your skin’s moisture benefits your whole body, so we’ve put together a list of tips on how you can keep your skin hydrated and glowing.
Why dry skin?
Your skin contains a number of layers. The outermost layer is formed from dead skin cells mixed with natural oils that keep the water inside the body from evaporating. The oil also keeps irritating substances and pathogens from entering the body. In addition, both the cells and the oils hold a certain amount of water to keep the skin soft, smooth, and pliable.
When there isn’t enough oil in the outer layer to hang onto the water, the result is dry skin. The oil can be stripped away by harsh soaps, exposure to irritating chemicals, the normal aging process, and some types of skin diseases. As the skin dries out, it shrinks, and that allows small cracks to develop. These cracks expose the underlying living cells to irritating substances and pathogens in the environment, perpetuating the problem.
Dry skin is often itchy; if it’s severe, it can interfere with sleep and other daily activities. If you repeatedly rub and scratch the dry areas, the skin can produce areas of thickened, rough skin (lichenification). Those areas can develop painful cracks that can result in dermatitis or eczema, turning the patches dry and scaly.
The cracks can also lead to infection, as the underlying tissue is exposed. If you notice yellow crusts or pus in these areas, you most likely have a bacterial infection, and you need to seek medical help.
As we age, our skin also produces less sebum, an essential oil, which is why dry skin is more common from middle age onward.
What can I do about my dry skin?
There are a number of ways to combat dry skin that are effective if incorporated consistently into your routine:
If you live in a dry climate, or if it’s the middle of the winter, use a humidifier to moisten the air. Set at 60%, it should be enough to replenish your top layer of skin.
Limit yourself to one 5- to 10-minute bath or shower a day; taking any additional time may strip away the skin's oily layer and cause it to lose moisture. Use lukewarm instead of hot water, since the latter can wash away natural oils.
Choose your soaps and cloths carefully
Many soaps, such as deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and those with alcohol, can strip away natural oils, so minimize soap use. Better yet, choose moisturizing formulas or soap-free cleansers.
Also avoid bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths if you can. If you do use them, do so with a light touch. In the same vein, when toweling dry, pat or blot your skin, don’t rub it vigorously.
Moisturize immediately after bathing or washing your hands, which helps to fill the spaces between your skin cells and retain moisture while your skin is still damp. Moisturizers can also help control itching, but if they aren’t enough, don’t scratch. Instead, use a cold compress applied to the spot.
Also helpful are using fragrance-free laundry detergents and fabric softeners as well as avoiding clothes made of wool or other fabrics that can irritate your skin.
Want to take your skin care to the next level? Then, come into Pure Touch Skin Center for professional attention. To set up a consultation with one of our aestheticians, call or send us a message online today.