Dry skin affects millions of people, especially during the cold, winter months. Dry skin can be uncomfortable, causing your skin to feel tight, painful, and extremely itchy. For many, dry skin is simply caused by harsh soaps, itchy clothing, misusing moisturizers, a lack of using moisturizers, certain medications and medical conditions, and even just by taking long, hot showers. While dry skin can appear anywhere on the body, the most common spots are on the arms, hands, lower legs, and abdomen. Normal, healthy skin is coated in a thin layer of natural lipids, or fatty substances. These substances keep in moisture, leaving the skin soft and supple. Environmental factors, your health and skin régime, or a genetic predisposition can strip away these fatty oils, leaving your skin unprotected.
Dry skin is often felt more than it is seen, but on some people it can be noticeable and embarrassing. If the itchiness and discomfort weren’t bad enough, a dry skin problem can be more than just a superficial issue. Your intact, healthy skin is your body’s primary defense against infection. If you let your skin get dried out and cracked, you could be giving all sorts of harmful bacteria a way in, leading to more serious problems. If untreated, dry skin can sometimes lead to inflammation of the skin, swelling, and even infection. The good news is that just as most causes of dry skin are external, so are most cures. With a careful, diligent dry skin care routine, you can usually solve the problem.
If you have been battling dry skin, you’ve probably already tried a moisturizer, if not dozens. While moisturizers are a critical part of dry skin care, we don’t always use them correctly. The most common mistake is often trying to apply the moisturizer to dry skin, when it’s least likely to help. Put on the moisturizer while your skin is still damp. That way the moisturizer is trapping the moisture still on your skin. Your skin shouldn’t be sopping wet, just pat yourself dry with a towel, apply the moisturizer and let it soak in for a few minutes before applying cosmetics or clothing. For hands, the best moisturizer is Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Wet hands and apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly. You may paper towel off any excess so hands are not sticky. Topical steroid preparations may be used to help with redness and irritation initially, and should be used only as directed. Avoid substances known to cause itching such as fragranced soaps and lotions, and wool clothing, especially in the drier months.
Finding the correct moisturizer can also be challenging. If you’ve been struggling with dry skin, and you’ve tried various things and none of them work, don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist or an esthetician. There is no reason to suffer when there are so many wonderful products and services to treat this condition and get your skin back to its glowing, radiant state.