Dry Skin? Here's What Dermatologists Recommend
The cold and dry season is upon us. And if you aren’t experiencing any kind of skin changes, you are one of the lucky ones!
Dry skin isn’t just about appearance either. It can become itchy and irritated (especially if you scratch it - which we and dermatologists alike don’t recommend). Also, the skin is your body’s first line of defence against any foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. Consequently, your skin health matters.
Why does dry skin happen in the first place?
Basically, dry skin is the lack of water or moisture in the skin - more specifically in the top-most layer called the epidermis. The epidermis is home to fat and protein. The fat part keeps the skin moisturized and hydrated. It prevents it from becoming flaky - which is necessary for protection from many common skin problems.
In dry skin, there is a deficiency of these fats or proteins. In turn, your skin becomes dry and breaks down. If you don’t take care of your dry skin, you risk infections, rashes, skin discoloration, and more.
And you guessed it - in a cold and dry climate, it’s tough for the skin to stay hydrated. However, it can also arise for more external factors, such as from certain medications.
So, what can you do to prevent and help your dry skin? Here are a few pointers from the American Academy of Dermatology. The experts always know best!
1. Bathe & Shower Health-Consciously
What does this mean? It means not taking 10+ minutes in the shower. Long showers or baths can potentially make your dry skin worse. Try to stick to 5-10 minutes maximum. And don’t use scorching hot water either. Try lukewarm water. It’s still comfortable, but won’t kill your skin.
2. Be Gentle
Use a gentle cleanser. And avoid viciously scrubbing the area - doing so will irritate it even more. Instead, dab the area dry after showering an apply moisturizer as soon as possible! By moisturizing right after you shower, you trap all that moisture in.
3. Moisturize with an Ointment or Cream
If you regularly use a lotion and find it’s not doing anything, search your pharmacy’s shelves for a moisturizing ointment or cream. They actually work better than lotions (I didn’t know this either before doing my research!).
The American Academy of Dermatologists recommend products that include oils in their ingredient list - specifically jojoba oil and olive oil. The next best thing? Shea butter.
They further recommend bringing a small travel-size moisturizer with you wherever you go (especially during those winter months!). After you wash your hands, use it. Or use it whenever you feel you need to.
4. Avoid Skin Care Products with Added Fragrance
Most scented skin care products contain fragrances, alcohol, alpha-hydroxy acid, or retinoids. Steer clear of these if you are prone to dry skin. Go for more natural products that are made for sensitive skin. Another tip here? Don’t use deodorant soaps on your dry skin.
5. Don’t Forget to Moisturize Your Lips
Invest in a solid lip balm product. It might cost a bit more for a quality lip balm that takes into account sensitivities, but it’s entirely worth it. You can’t rock that lipstick if your lips are too dry. And no, it shouldn’t burn or sting. If it does, definitely try a different product.
6. Don’t Touch Your Face
Okay, so this one I threw in here. But I find that this is a problem (for myself too). Our hands carry the most bacteria - yet many of us are constantly touching our faces, whether we are leaning on our hands or scratching our jawline. It likely isn’t helping your skin complexion (hello, breakouts!), and it’s definitely irritating your dry skin. Make this a rule during those dry skin months of the year (or all year round!). Quit touching your face!
7. Put on Some Gloves
The hands are one of the most common spots to experience dry skin (and arguably one of the most uncomfortable spots to have it). Yet, wearing gloves greatly decreases this problem.
Dermatologists recommend wearing gloves not just outside, but also when using your hands in water - such as when washing the dishes or cleaning. In addition to gloves, wear socks - especially if you’re prone to dry feet. Protect your skin so it can do the same for you.
8. Is it Your Laundry Detergent?
Possibly unsurprisingly, laundry detergent can make skin health matters worse - especially if your skin is already irritated and dry. So, what can you do here? You can buy unscented and hypoallergenic laundry detergent (I do this no matter what. I have sensitive skin and don’t trust anything but hypoallergenic detergents and products).
Dermatologists also say that wearing softer clothing, like silk or satin as opposed to rough wool, can also decrease the irritation.
9. Consider Investing in a Humidifier
Throw a little more moisture in the air. Help your skin out. Hey, you might even have one already within your heating system at home. It forces moisture into your air when you need it the most!
10. Layer Up!
While snuggling next to a fire or other heat sources sounds great in the winter months, doing it too much can wreak havoc on your skin. It makes your skin even drier. Instead, bundle up! If you’re cold, put on suitable clothing to keep warm.
11. Load Up on the Sunscreen, Especially in Sunnier Cities
If you are already prone to dry skin, the sun can further aggravate this problem. Sunscreen it up! That beach vacation? Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen - and don’t forget to apply it.
When All Else Fails, See Your Dermatologist
Regular ol’ dry skin should clear up quickly - and it happens to everyone sometimes. Within a couple of weeks, it should be gone or almost gone. If not, it could indicate a more serious problem. You might need something a little stronger - such as a prescription - to help you and your skin out. It could also be eczema - a chronic inflammatory skin condition - which is best to get looked at right away.
Take care of your skin. In turn, you’ll have great skin - even during those senior years. Allow your inner glow to shine through!