Dry skin, or xerosis, is no fun to deal with, and if you suffer from excessive dryness, chances are you deal with red, swollen, and itchy skin. Not only is that uncomfortable, but can be a little embarrassing, too, making you feel self-conscious.
So, what can you do to help combat excessive dryness? Sometimes the solution is as easy as changing some of your habits. Other times you need a little more help.
What Causes Dry Skin
The easy answer is that skin becomes dry when it loses too much water or oil. The skin's outer layer loses its ability to hold together and protect the inner layers beneath it. The inner layers, responsible for most of the skin's moisture, lose their water through the damaged skin barrier.
Sometimes relief can come just from avoiding the culprits that are causing it. These may include:
- Too much sunshine
- Long, hot baths or showers
- Cold air
- Harsh soaps
- Too much exfoliation
- Dry climate
The foods you eat, your drinking habits, and your skin care can come into play, too. Age is also a factor, as skin becomes thinner and drier as you get older. Researchers are now also saying that dry skin may be inherited. In addition, any number of medical conditions may be at fault here. Conditions like:
- Eczema (Atopic dermatitis)
- Ichthyosis vulgaris
Many of these offenders have one thing in common: inflammation, which can trigger certain skin conditions.
The Role of Inflammation in Dry Skin
Inflammation can be the result of exposure to something damaging like UV radiation, allergens, or contact with chemical irritants like soaps or hair dyes, or it can also be the direct result of a wound.
Inflamed skin is irritated skin, appearing in various ways like discoloration and with various sensations like itching, burning, and dryness.
Basic Everyday Steps In Dry Skin Care
Sometimes all it takes to alleviate dry skin is to provide it with some good TLC. Good skin care starts from within.
- Drink plenty of water to maintain a good level of hydration.
- Eat a well-balanced diet high in antioxidants to combat any inflammation.
- Include a daily dose of probiotics which introduce healthy bacteria into the gut, creating a barrier to reduce inflammation.
- Topical probiotics have a profound effect on the skin, as well. "Like dietary probiotics impact your stomach's biome, probiotic skin care products try to promote a healthy skin biome by influencing the types of bacteria that live on your skin," states board-certified dermatologist Janet Prystowsky, M.D. They have the ability to improve inflammatory skin conditions, strengthen the skin barrier, and provide anti-aging benefits.
- Take shorter showers using warm water instead of hot.
- Protect yourself from the sun by avoiding it altogether, covering up, or applying sunscreen.
- Employ gentle, soapless cleansers. Consider one that contains ceramides.
- Avoid products that include alcohol.
- Always immediately follow up with a moisturizer. Look for one that includes very nourishing ingredients like shea butter.
- Cover all exposed skin with SPF 30 sunscreen to add sun protection.
- Exfoliate judiciously. Seek a product that is gentle and provides added moisture.
- Run a humidifier in the winter when the air is dry.
- Avoid fragrances and try "hypoallergenic" laundry and cleaning products.