Skincare comes with a number of challenges. But dry skin tops the list of troubling ailments. It is a condition that results from poor moisture retention by the skin. Environmental reasons, underlying physical conditions and lifestyle choices can all be to blame. (Image Credit: Jcomp/Freepik)
While dry skin can be just a mere irritation, in some cases it causes uncomfortable itching and redness. In more severe cases, it can lead to painful inflammation, rashes, and bacterial infections. Eczema, psoriasis, and scabies are severe dry skin conditions that require specialized medical attention and treatment.
Most people suffer from mild dry skin troubles with a mild itch and flaking skin which often goes ignored. Yet dry skin is one of the primary causes of skin damage and aging! This is exactly why your skincare routine should primarily address these concerns. Why ignore it when there are some simple tips that can keep dry, itchy, and flaky skin at bay?
What Causes Dry Skin?
Understanding the cause of your dry skin troubles is the first step to alleviating them. A number of internal and external factors can be the cause.
These are the inherent physical factors of an individual such as age, genetics, family history, underlying conditions, and overall health. Most of these are hard to change and treatment usually involves handling symptoms rather than the cause.
These include environmental conditions such as low humidity, cold temperatures, use of harsh skin products, etc. Frequent bathing, especially with harsh soaps and scrubbing also removes the moisture from the skin making it dry and prone to cracking. It is possible to change external factors and therefore avoid the dry skin problems caused by them.
How to Avoid Dry Skin Troubles?
Here are some simple tips to restore skin moisture and protect it from dryness issues. Some of these simple but effective steps can save you from all the scratching and flaking. So why not give them a shot!
1. Moisturize your skin
Choose an effective moisturizer that helps rehydrate the dry top layer of the skin (epidermis) and seal the moisture in. Broadly, there are 3 types:
- Emollients: These fill in the spaces and cracks between the cells making the skin smooth and pliable.
- Humectants: These attract the water molecules in the air and keep them close to the skin to prevent dryness.
- Occlusives: These prevent skin moisture loss by forming a protective layer on the skin.
Most moisturizing creams and lotions contain one or a combination of these three types. Simple, inexpensive, yet effective moisturizers include petroleum jelly and oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, and sunflower seed oil.
2. Take oatmeal baths
This age-old grandma’s remedy has shown to work effectively in treating dry and irritated skin. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that soothe itching.
To make your oatmeal bath, simply grind oatmeal in a food processor to make a fine powder and mix it into warm water.
3. Apply aloe gel
The gel from the aloe vera plant has shown potential not only in moisturizing dry skin but also in treating itchy, irritated skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent skin damage caused by cracks, fissures, and flaking skin. It is also rich in antioxidants that ensure protection from oxidation by free radicals.
Simply extract the gel by cutting the stem of an aloe plant. Massage it on the dry areas before going to bed and leave it on overnight.
4. Use a humidifier
If you live in a dry climate, it might be useful to invest in a humidifier. Sometimes home heating systems also make the internal air dry. This can also be combated with a humidifier. Setting it to a 60% level will sufficiently work to keep the skin hydrated.
5. Use mild skincare products
Avoid harsh soaps, cleansers, and alcohol-based products as they wash away the natural oils on the skin’s surface. Using sponges, washcloths, and scrubs too often can also damage the skin and leave it dry. The best way to get rid of dry skin is to follow a gentle routine with mild and effective skincare products from a trusted brand.
6. Shower tips
The longer your showers, the more you wash away the natural oils on the skin. Hence, limit your shower time to 5-10 minutes. Avoid hot water as it strips away all the natural oils. Pat dry the skin instead of rubbing it dry. Apply a moisturizer right after your shower to seal in the moisture.
7. Supplement your diet with antioxidants and omega
Dry skin damages the epidermis and exposes it to free radicals. They further damage the skin before your body can repair it. Foods rich in antioxidants can help speed up the repair process and promote healthy skin. Berries, carrots, apricots, lentils, peas, tomatoes, spinach, and green tea are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Omega, especially omega-3 is essential in keeping the skin hydrated, supple, and pliable. Include foods like salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and plant oils like soybean oil, canola, oil, and flaxseed oil in your diet.
8. Don’t scratch an itch
Scratching only makes dry skin worse and can lead to redness and inflammation. While it is only a natural tendency to scratch, use a cold compress or a cold pack to soothe the itch instead.
9. Avoid harsh chemical laundry cleaners
Laundry cleaners and fabric softeners, especially those loaded with fragrances can make the skin dry and irritated. Use mild, fragrance-free products for the clothes you wear.
10. Keep the skin covered from external damage
When outside, especially in dry, windy weather, wear a scarf and gloves to keep your skin covered and protected. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands while doing housework, especially when using harsh cleansers and when your hands are continuously immersed in water.
Healthy skin is within reach with the help of these 10 helpful tips.