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Acne Advice GuideCombating dry skin - Acne Advice Guide - Doctor Fox

Combating dry skin

Combating dry skin

Lack of hydration, harsh weather and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your skin, making it look dull and lifeless – it can even be painful! Here we will explain how to keep your skin moisturised and protected against the elements, and how you can treat very dry skin conditions.

Why is my skin dry?

There are a number of reasons why you may have dry skin. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Naturally dry skin
  • Cold weather
  • Shaving
  • Heaters
  • Hot showers
  • Harsh products
  • Dry environment
  • Overuse of cleansing agents
  • Excessive bathing or swimming
  • Age

Less common causes include:

  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis
  • Disease such as hypothyroidism or diabetes
  • Medications (such as diuretics and/or retinoids)

Preventing dry skin

The key to preventing most cases of dry skin is moisturising. For simple maintenance and mild cases you will find many non-prescription solutions. Creams, lotions and balms are available with varying levels of emollient ingredients, however it is important to use one that is specifically designed for your skin type.

It can be well worth your time to visit a specialist for a professional evaluation and skincare recommendation, even if you do not think your dry skin requires medical attention. One visit could help you learn to care for your skin forever, and perhaps help you avoid the signs of premature ageing.

For daily protection it is best to moisturise your skin more than you initially find necessary. The epidermis absorbs products surprisingly quickly, and can absorb multiple layers such as serums, creams and nourishing oils. A layer of protection forms a barrier to lock in moisture. It keeps the skin supple and retains natural oils. This is how you maintain a glow.

Careful cleansing

Your facial and body skin requires daily cleansing, but it is often cleansing agents that do the most damage. Using soap, bubble baths or shower gel can strip it of its natural oils. If your facial wash or soap leaves your skin squeaky clean it is probably drying your skin. Even plain water can dry the skin.

Instead, try:

  • A soap substitute. These leave a layer of moisture on the skin as they cleanse.
  • Shave with moisturising cream instead of harsh shaving cream or gel.
  • Wash your hands with a cream instead of soap.
  • Add emollient oil to your bath. This will prevent dry skin caused from prolonged exposure to water; just be careful as oil can make the bath slippery.

Treatment of skin conditions

If you suffer from extremely dry skin or recurring patches of itchy, dry skin you may have a case of eczema (dermatitis) or psoriasis.

Eczema consist of red, itchy skin as well as dryness, whilst psoriasis consists of scaly, red patches of skin. If you are experiencing symptoms of either condition you should consult your doctor.

For more serious cases of dry skin-related conditions steroids are often prescribed. Although steroids can be effective in the short term, if used for extended periods of time they can severely damage the skin. They should never be used without the supervision of a licensed general practitioner.

Fighting the elements

Your skin is the body’s largest and most exposed organ. It is the first line of defence against the weather. When the climate changes and it becomes very cold, hot or dry your skin may experience a dramatic drop in moisture and suppleness.

If your indoor surroundings become too dry (due to heating, air conditioning or natural elements) a humidifier can help replace moisture.

During the colder months of the year you need to adjust your skin care routine, using products with a higher oil content. Colder weather can also encourage you to take very hot showers or sit near the fire; you will just need to balance out these drying actions by increasing your moisturising efforts.

With the right care you can prevent many cases of normally occurring normal dry skin. Speak to your GP if you have dry skin that is painful, itchy or uncomfortable. It is also best to visit a specialist to help develop a moisturising skin care routine you can follow on a daily basis.