Skin Care for Dry Skin

Praise Oladoyin

Dry skin can be uncomfortable. It can lead to cracks and fissures in the skin. Cold air outside and heated air inside cause low humidity, that often is worse in winter. Treating dry skin is important because extensively dry skin can lead to dermatitis, a more severe inflammation of the skin.

Try these tips for the bath or shower:

  • Skip long, hot showers. Hot water strips oils from the skin faster than warm water. Long showers or baths actually result in dryness of skin. Try to limit yourself to a single 5-10 minute warm shower or bath a day.
  • Use a gentle cleanser or shower gel with moisturizer. Go for unscented, soap-free, or mild soap cleansers instead of harsh cleansers.
  • Moisturize while skin is moist. Pat your skin with a towel after you shower or wash your face or hands, leaving it damp. Apply a moisturizer within three to five minutes of washing to lock moisture in your skin.
  • Gently exfoliate: Helping skin to shed built-up surface layers of dead skin as it would if it was hydrated and healthy is a fundamental part of any skin care routine. Young skin can exfoliate dead skin all on its own but that changes as we get older. The most non-irritating, gentlest way to do this is with a well-formulated alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) leave-on exfoliant. These types of products imperceptibly show the hydrated, smoother, radiant skin that’s hiding underneath.
  • Don’t forget your lips: Lips are the least capable of staying smooth and soft. Do not leave your lips naked, day or night. During the day, it’s essential to apply and reapply an emollient lipstick, gloss, or balm and during daylight hours, it needs to contain sunscreen!

These strategies can also help make your skin supple and smooth:

  • Plug in a humidifier at home to help keep skin hydrated when indoor air is dry during winter months.
  • Wear cotton and other natural fibers. Wool, synthetics, or other fabrics can be scratchy and irritating.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat omega-3 foods. Essential fatty acids can help fortify the skin’s natural oil-retaining barriers. Foods rich in omega-3 include cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, sardines), flax, walnuts, and safflower oil.
  • For itching or inflammation, apply a cool compress or a hydrocortisone cream on the area for a week. If these don’t provide relief, talk to your doctor.