What is the biggest organ in a human body? You might be surprised to find out it is the skin. Your intact, healthy skin is your body’s primary defense against infection.
If you let your skin get dried out and cracked, you could be giving all sorts of nasty bacteria a way in. But dry skin is a common condition. There are lots of good reasons to do something about your dry, itchy skin – your looks, your health, and your sanity. So it is time to put down the back scratcher and figure out what’s really causing your dry skin problem.
For many, dry skin is not a sign of a skin condition or disease, but is simply caused by harsh soaps, itchy clothing, misusing moisturizer, and long, hot showers. The medications you take, medical conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, hypothyroidism, and malnutrition, can also cause severe dry skin.
Some Skin Facts
- Oil in the skin helps hold back water.
- If oil is lost, skin becomes dry.
- Moisturizers prevent loss of water from skin.
Ways Skin Loses Its Moisture
Use of harsh soaps
Washing clothes and utensils with harsh soaps takes out the moisture from your skin and makes it very dry. Also, if you have dry skin and you wash your hands or face too many times with face wash/liquid soaps, it can further irritate the skin and make it itch. Wear gloves while washing pots and pans and use mild soaps to wash your face/hands. Keep a hand lotion next to your soap and moisturize your hands after you wash them.
One of the earliest symptoms of diabetes is dryness in the skin. If you are experiencing dryness particularly in your hands and feet without any reason, it is a good idea to get yourself tested for diabetes.
If your skin is exposed to the sun too much, then the harmful UV rays can cause skin damage, leaving it dry and scaly.
Swimming is good for your health but not so much for your skin and hair. Over-chlorinated pools can cause harm. Long hours in the pool remove the oily layer of your skin which locks in moisture. It is important to apply a good moisturizing lotion or cream before and after you swim.
Women nearing 40 will often find their skin getting drier than usual. This is because the skin starts losing its elasticity, in other words, it starts to mature. You can also find fine lines, wrinkles, etc. Even women with oily skin will feel their skin getting dry. In order to control this, opt for hydrating creams/lotions. Start using anti-ageing serums and pick products that are water-based as it will ensure that your skin remains hydrated.
Some skin condition
Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema occur more often in people who have dry skin. If your skin is too itchy and sore and you see patchy red spots, you could be suffering from a milder form of psoriasis. Eczema is a term broadly used for various skin conditions with symptoms like flaky, dry, blistered skin. Go to a dermatologist if you have dry skin and rashes too often to understand your skin condition.
Frequent hot showers
If you are into taking long, hot showers, your skin is prone to get dry as the hot water affects the epidermis (top skin layer) which has keratin and a layer of oil which helps retain moisture. The heat of the shower mixed with soap strips this layer and moisture escapes your skin leaving it dry. The longer and hotter the shower is, the drier your skin will get. If you already have dry skin, the shower will worsen it.
You could be suffering from hypothyroidism which can cause your skin to become dry. In this condition, the thyroid glands produce less thyroid hormones which lessen the activity of the oil and sweat glands which lead to dry skin. Moisturizing the skin with creams or oils is essential to avoid this.
Keep the skin moist (called lubricating or moisturizing the skin). Use ointments (such as petroleum jelly), creams, or lotions 2 – 3 times a day. Moisturizers should not contain alcohol, scents, dyes, or other chemicals. Using a humidifier in your home will also help.
Moisturizers and emollients work best when they are applied to skin that is wet or damp. After washing or bathing, pat the skin dry and then apply the moisturizer right away.
Bathe less often and keep water contact as brief as possible. Short, cooler baths are better than long, hot baths.
Use gentle skin care cleansers instead of regular soaps. Only use them on your face, underarms, genital areas, hands, and feet.
- Use a humidifier if the air is dry.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Apply cool compresses to itchy areas, and try over-the-counter cortisone creams or lotions if your skin is inflamed.
- Take ¼ cup of honey. Add 2 teaspoon of olive oil. Add 4 teaspoon of oatmeal. Mix it well. Apply this mixture on the skin areas which need moisture. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and rinse with water.
- Cut and de-seed ½ avocado. Grind it to make a paste. Take 1 tablespoon of honey. Add 1 tablespoon of crushed avocado. Add 1 tablespoon milk. Mix it well. Apply this mixture on your skin. Leave it on for about 15-20 minutes. Rinse it with warm water.
- Take 1 teaspoon of black tea. Add 1 teaspoon of honey. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil . Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix all of these ingredients together in a bowl. Gently massage this mixture on the specific areas of your skin. Rinse off with warm water after 20-30 minutes.
- A warm glass of milk mixed with a teaspoon or two of almond oil, before bedtime, can work wonders.
- Before going for a bath, rub some honey all over your body and leave it on for five to ten minutes. Honey is one of the best natural moisturizers.
- This tip dates back to thousands of years when queens bathed in milk. Yes, soaking in a tub filled with milk and warm water can do wonders for skin.
- Instead of opting for expensive moisturizing creams that are available in the market, rub some sesame oil all over your body after your shower.
- Petroleum jelly is one of the best remedies for dry lips, hands, and feet.
- Glycerin oil is also a good remedy for dry skin.
- Does your face feel itchy every time you wash it? Try this: Mix an egg yolk with a teaspoon each of olive oil and orange juice, and add some drops of rose water and lime juice. Apply this mixture to your face and leave it on for 15 minutes before washing it off.
- Oil fish like salmon are not only rich in essential fatty acids, consuming them regularly can also help alleviate dry skin.
- Are you suffering from dry and cracked heels? Rub the inside of a banana peel on your heels and watch all the dry skin disappear.
- Bananas can also be used to treat dry skin on your face and neck. Just mash a banana (ripe ones work better) and apply it like a face pack. After some time wash your face with warm water.
- If you are a smoker, quit. Smoking is really bad for your skin.
- Exercise. When you exercise, you sweat. This unblocks your pores, and allows the natural oils to come to the surface and hydrate your skin.
- Get sufficient sleep. Your body requires at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Lack of sleep really affects the skin.
However, call your doctor if:
- You feel itchy without a visible rash.
- Dryness and itching are preventing you from sleeping.
- You have any open cuts or sores from scratching.
- Home care measures do not relieve your dryness and itching.