Dry skin, or xerosis, is a skin type usually marked by firm texture and parched skin. This type is especially noticeable during winter, when one turns to indoor heaters due to the cold weather and dry air or low humidity. Signs of dry skin usually appear as pink spots on the face, arms and legs. These small spots can grow into painful patches that later flake and become itchy if left untreated. The shin and the abdomen, particularly the sides, are also frequent dry spots. Eczema and other types of dermatitis could also emerge without the appropriate treatment. The condition may also be genetically inherited. The normal skin changes accompanying aging also tend to make elderly people have dry skin problems.
1. Moisturize Regularly
The irritation and dryness can be relieved by using a moisturizing cleanser and the frequent application of oil-based lotions or creams, particularly before the affected individual sleeps. Experts also suggest less and shorter baths and showers of about 5-10 minutes to maintain skin hydration. Lukewarm water is also considered more beneficial than hot water baths and showers. Mild soaps are also preferred for the face, along with moisturizing lotions for the whole body following a bath and prior to bedtime. Rehydration will also benefit from high levels of water and fruit consumption.
2. Skin Disorders
Scaling or flaking skin can be syptomatic of dermatitis. One type is seborrheic dermatits, which is characterized by red, itchy rashes on diferent body parts, particularly areas with many oil glands. This scaly rash can be found on the nose, the scalp and eyebrows. Another type is allergic contact dermatitis, which is the result of an immune reaction in contact between the skin and poison ivy or similar substances. Some individuals also experience eczema, or atopic dermatitis, if it is common in the family; or athlete’s foot, a fungal infection affecting soles of the feet.
3. Cleanse Your Skin
A key factor in basic skin care is knowing one’s skin type, as this will determine the approach and the products one will use. Individuals will have either dry, normal/combination, sensitive or oily skin. A basic skin care routine will always include cleansing. Since skin types vary across individuals, people should look for a cleanser that their skin responds to. Most experts discourage the use of soap to cleanse the face, with some specifying soap only for cleansing from the neck to the feet. Cleansers are made up of water, oil and surfactants that combine to dissolve facial oil and dirt, remove makeup and wash all these excesses away from the face. Care should be taken to use only the appropriate mix to avoid clogging skin pores or drying the skin.
4. Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate
Many experts advise the routine at night, with only lukewarm water used to wash the face in the morning. However, use of a moisturizer before bedtime will make cleansing also necessary in the morning. Individuals are advised to use warm water to start washing, as this would unclog pores and loosen dirt. After a cleanser is used, rinsing off using cool water will tighten or close the pores. Exfoliating is another step many specialists advise to treat or prevent dry skin. Stanford University clinical assistant professor Katie Rodan advises that individuals exfoliate on a daily basis. This will augment natural replenishment of the skin – the removal of dead skin cells to give way to new cells – and improve moisture retention, giving one fresher and younger-looking skin. Individuals with dry or sensitive skin should exfoliate up to two times a week, and increase the frequency during the summer and hot months, when sweat makes dead skin cells stick together and delays their removal. For those with sun-damaged skin, hydroxies may have to be used as deep exfoliants. Toners are not a requirement, as the removal of dirt, makeup and oil can already be done using a cleanser.
5. Sun Damage
Moisturizers and sunscreens are also crucial parts of a regular skin care routine. Some experts advise separate moisturizers for night and daytime, when the product should ideally offer UV protection. Sunscreens should not be applied with moisturizers at night, as this could actually worsen dry skin conditions. A good sunscreen should have zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzene as an active ingredient. In addition to dry skin prevention, the following tips can be adopted by individuals at home to address the condition:
- Applying petroleum jelly and wearing cotton gloves prior to sleeping works well for individuals with extremely dry hands
- Lotions can also be used on nails if they pose problems of brittleness and dryness
- To prevent scratching itchy, dry skin, one can try oatmeal baths, a nonprescription treatment such as 1% hyrocortisone cream, and using gloves or keeping nails short