Dry skin – find out what the reasons behind it are and how to deal with them

Image:© Leonid & Anna Dedukh / Fotolia

In this article you will find information on the dominant causes of skin dehydration and tips on how to deal with them.
Cause 1: Face and body cleansing lotions
Cleansing lotions containing soap and other chemicals, such as sodium laureth sulfate, drain the skin of its natural grease and moisture. Soap is still the most widely accepted cause for skin dehydration. A few of the other common culprits are anti-bacterial soaps and lotions. They contain not only cleansing chemicals, but also triclosan which is a great antiseptic, but is often associated with itchiness and peeling of the skin.
Relief: Choose hard soap instead of a liquid variety or body lotion, because the ingredients used for liquefying are the most dehydrating. In severe cases you should also avoid antibacterial products.
Cause 2: Excessive exfoliating
Skin is irritated, flaky and seems to be getting progressively paler. The assumption that scrubbing away the tiny flakes will make your skin look better is erroneous. This may come as a surprise to some, but the overly aggressive exfoliating is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The dead cells lingering on the surface of the skin help it in retaining its moisture and replenishing the fats it requires. If you continuously remove this protective layer, the skin fails to hydrate properly.
Relief: Avoid using exfoliating products. All of them enhance the whitening of the skin thus worsening its condition. You can use a body scrub no more than once a week under the shower and only if it is a very mild product. This way the moisture from the shower is absorbed more effectively, because the dead cells that may block its absorption are removed. Since the natural ability of the skin to rid itself of its dead cells diminishes with age, it is good to occasionally help with that, just make sure you are doing it properly.
Cause 3: Prolonged soakings in the bathtub
When the weather outside is gloomy and unpleasant, there is nothing better than an hour spent relaxing in a warm bubble bath. However it is more prudent to resist this temptation. Extensive soaking in warm water deprives the skin of its natural moisture. Skin is hydrated not by water, but by fats. The longer you stay in the bathtub the more of your natural skin fats you lose. This is also why your skin wrinkles when you spend too much time in the pool.
Relief: Avoid spending too much time in a bathtub with a lot of bubbles or salts. The combination between the hot water and the chemicals in soap and salts is guaranteed to dry the skin. Instead take a short shower with warm (not hot) water. If you can’t deny yourself some leisurely bathing at least be careful that your bath water is not too hot and add some bath oil to it.
Cause 4: Cosmetics
It is useless to treat your skin with a huge amount of moisturizing products if they are not properly selected.
There are three types of moisturizing products – lotions, creams and ointments. Most people have no idea of the differences between them. Moisturizers sometimes also contain anti-aging ingredients, usually retinol and forms of vitamin A.
Relief: Lotions are suitable mostly for people who are not suffering from dry skin. Creams are thicker in texture and ointments are even more so. This is why the latter are most suitable for people with perpetually dry or cracked skin, most noticeably found on the hands, elbows, knees, lips and the soles of the feet. Creams are a good choice for hydrating the skin of the face and the rest of the body.
If the ingredients label is too confusing for you, simply look for a product containing lactic acid, ceramides, shea butter or glycerin – they are all moisturizers. Hyaluronic acid is also a good ingredient, because it helps the skin retain moisture and slows the aging processes.
If you are using anti-aging products, there is no need to discontinue their use. Treat your skin with a pure moisturizer and apply anti-aging product after the moisturizer has absorbed completely.
Cause 5: You wait too long before you start dealing with the problem
Most people start using moisturizers a good while after they notice that their skin is already very dry. This helps too, but less than it would have had it been done on time. The best way to hydrate is to apply cream to a damp skin, soon after washing. This will literally seal the moisture inside.
Relief: Towel-dry the skin after taking a bath or shower and apply moisturizer to the whole surface.
Cause 6: Dietary habits
There are a few popular beliefs that certain foods, such as chocolate and pizza, can be connected to an unhealthy complexion. While this particular statement is not true, it is true that your diet can affect your skin. A diet lacking in fats can enhance the conditions of dry skin. This is why you will have to give in, at least for the time being, even if you’re banning fats from your food. Fat deficiency can be the cause for cracking and flaking of the skin.
Relief: Don’t consider fats to be a taboo. Eat products rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.), flax seed, walnuts and olive oil. These important fatty acids help with dry skin, because they are among the key components of sebum – the natural skin fats.
Another dietary reason behind dry skin can be the overconsumption of alcohol, which is a notorious dehydrator. It will be wise if you limit the cocktails and take care to drink enough water – at least one-and-a-half liters per day. Although experts are not in agreement whether hydration from the inside really works in this case, no one can deny that cells need water in order to function properly. Skin cells are no exception.
Cause 7: The sun
Continuous exposure to the sun is undeniably among the unhealthiest things you can do to your skin. Sun rays can penetrate the protective barrier of the skin, reach into its natural moisture supplies and evaporate them.
Relief: If you are planning to spend the day out in the open, you should definitely use sun screen lotion, no matter if the weather is sunny or rainy. Look for a lotion with UVA and UVB protection. UVA rays are the ones responsible for damaging the skin with the advancement of age, while UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn. For daily use choose a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15, but if your skin is pale or if you are going to spend a long time in the sun, consider buying a lotion with a higher SPF.
Cause 8: The useful habit of washing your hands
We are taught to wash our hands as often as possible, especially in flu season. While this is a very important step in the fight against germs, the constant rubbing and use of soap leave the skin of the hands painfully dry and irritated, with its protective layer progressively thinning out.
Relief: Use hand-washing products which do not contain soap. Carefully towel-dry the hands after each use and apply moisturizer. Do not blow-dry the hands. You can also use cleansing gels that do not require washing. Even doctors are known to use them. Squirt some of the gel on your hands and rub as you would with a normal liquid soap. Instead of rinsing with water, wipe away with a tissue. These products do a good job in cleaning and improve the hydrating layer of the skin.


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