Skin. What about it?

Skin. What about it?

Did you know that skin is the largest and maybe one of the most important organs of your body? Skin holds everything in, plays a crucial role as an airtight, watertight and flexible barricade between the outside world and the highly modulated systems within the body, helps with temperature regulation, immune defence, vitamin production, and sensation. Health and wellness breakthrough award winner Dr Howard Murad once said: “healthy skin is a reflection of overall wellness”. So what makes skin healthy? The absence of dry skin. 

Right, then how do you know if you have dry skin? You might have naturally dry skin. But even if your skin tends to be oily, you can develop dry skin from time to time. Dry skin usually presents itself with a few symptoms. Those symptoms can include a feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming, skin that looks and feels rough, itchiness, slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines or cracks, gray ashy skin, redness or in severe cases, deep cracks that may bleed.

In and of itself, dry skin isn’t usually a serious condition. The typical cause is environmental - oftentimes the drop of temperature or humidity levels. Apart from that, taking long, hot showers, baths or even swimming in heavily chlorinated pools can dry out your skin. 

Apart from that, the ingredients in your everyday life may be culprit to your dry skin as well. For example, your body mist or fragrance may have drying and irritating components. Perhaps, even your soap is the offender. Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist in Newton, Massachusetts says that, “Many soaps, detergents, and shampoos subtract moisture from your skin and scalp, as they are formulated to remove oil”. Or maybe even your medication. Many acne medications and Retinol increase skin cell turnover which leads to dryness.

Dry skin takes no prisoners as anybody can develop dry skin. Normally, the top layer of skin is made up of dead cells and natural oils, which help trap moisture to keep the skin soft and smooth, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. But if there’s not enough water in this top layer of cells, which can happen, one could develop dry skin. According to MedlinePlus, it’s extremely common, can occur in people of all ages, and can pop up anywhere on the body, from the hands and face to the legs and stomach. 

However,  your chances increase the older you get the drier your skin might get. This is because as you age, your pores naturally produce less oil, raising your risk of dry skin. Apart from that, as mentioned earlier, the drier and colder your environment, and the more hot showers you take, the likelier you are to develop dry skin. Also, something people don’t often think about is your work environment. If you work in a field that requires you to have parts of your skin submerged in water for longer periods of time such as hairstyling or nursing, your skin is likely to dry out quicker as well. 

So what happens if your skin isn’t feeling well? There are a few every day simple lifestyle changes that could improve or help you avoid developing dry skin such as using a humidifier in your home, drinking plenty of water, and patting, rather than rubbing wet skin dry with a soft towel. Before towel tips however, in regards to showering, maybe you need to limit your water exposure - keeping bath and shower time to 10 minutes or less. Turning down the temperature is a good tip as well. While in this thread, avoiding harsh and drying soaps and swapping them out for cleansing creams, gentle skin cleansers and shower gels with added moisturizers will likely make a big difference. 

If you live in colder climates, covering as much skin as possible in cold or windy weather will go a long way. Winter can be especially drying to skin, so be sure to wear a scarf, hat and gloves when you go out. If you work in a wetter profession, wear rubber gloves. If you have to immerse your hands in water or are using harsh cleansers, wearing gloves can help protect your skin. One should also avoid itching or scrubbing dry skin patches

Finally, it is extremely important that you use the right moisturiser. If your skin is extremely dry, lean towards a petroleum-based product. If your skin becomes less dry in different seasons, you can think about switching to a lighter, water-based lotion then. Lotions that contain grapeseed oil and antioxidants are also great at trapping water in your skin. The best time to apply your moisturiser is immediately after bathing or showering.