Tight and itchy is how I would describe my skin at times. It’s not the end of the world but it makes me a little uncomfortable and I like to deal with it as soon as possible. It’s usually just my hands and feet that get really dry and it is most noticeable at the changing of the seasons.
Before we get into some home treatments for dry skin let’s have a look at just what the heck it is.
What Is Dry Skin And What Are The Causes?
In healthy skin, a person’s glands produce an oil called sebum that keeps it moist and supple. Basically, with dry skin, oil production in the glands can’t keep up. This is what causes the itchy and flakey condition on the outer layer of skin. The hands and face are usually the most troubled areas for dry skin because they are exposed to the elements almost always.
Constant hand washing, which is of course recommended to keep germs from spreading, is one way that the healthy oils get washed away. Dry and itchy hands go hand in hand with occupations that require sanitizing and more frequent washing. People in the food and medical industries know what I mean. It can get to a point that the skin on your hands actually stings when you use sanitizer as a result of the oils being constantly washed away.
Dry skin does not discriminate and it affects males and females equally. As we age we will become more prone to dry skin due to diminishing amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants in our systems. Something to look forward to, no doubt.
Causes for dry skin can be internal as well as external and not treating your dry skin can lead to complications such as infection. The untreated dry skin can crack allowing bacteria to enter which can cause the infection.
Changing some external habits can help to treat dry skin:
- Take shorter showers and use water that is not too hot.
- Use appliances to moisturize the air in your home.
- Switch to a soap and shampoo that is less drying.
- Avoid overexposure to the sun and swimming in chlorinated pools.
- Keep a quality moisturizer close and use it a lot. Look for it to contain emollients like mineral oil and lanolin to soothe the skin. Other ingredients to look for are alpha or beta hydroxy acids to help with exfoliation and to keep the pores clear. It is actually a misconception that moisturizers add moisture to the skin, they don’t. They only lock in the moisture and oil that is already present. Still a good thing.
Home Remedies For Dry Skin
Use aloe vera gel to help skin heal quicker. It contains certain acids that can eat away at dead skin cells.
Exfoliate: Add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for a few minutes. You can also use handfuls of the salt to rub on your skin while it is wet to exfoliate further. Another way to exfoliate the skin is by using a cloth soaked in milk on problem areas. Leave the cloth on the area for about 5 minutes and then gently rinse off the milk. The lactic acid in milk helps to exfoliate dead skin cells and may also increase the skin’s ability to hold moisture.
Diet And Vitamins To Improve Dry Skin
You can improve the look and feel of your skin by dealing with it internally as well as externally. Increasing the amount of healthy fats and oils in your diet is a good start. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. For added benefit, drink some green tea which is full of antioxidants.
Coconut oil is becoming the fast favorite for improving your health in a number of ways. It can be added to your diet to curb junk food and sugar cravings. It can also be used topically on your skin and will improve your condition because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Hemp seed oil is the new buzzword when it comes to skin health. It is pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant and is a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. It contains the perfect ratio of Omega 3 and 6 and is becoming a fast favorite as a daily nutritional supplement.
Olive oil has long been used to attain healthy skin. Externally used or as nutrition in your diet, you can’t go wrong with olive oil. It contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It is a source of Vitamin E, healthy omega-9 fat and the antioxidants beta-carotene and squalene which all play a role in skin health.
Salmon and herring are both cold water fish and are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that can help to keep your skin cell membranes healthy. Walnuts and avocados are other foods that are a good source of fatty acids.
Pumpkin contains a good mix of vitamins A, C and E as well as carotenoids that help to neutralize free radicals in the skin. Eating the pulp from pumpkins will add skin-saving anti-oxidants and enzymes to your system.
Almonds, tomatoes, strawberries, kale, yogurt, blueberries and spinach all contain nutrients or anti-oxidants that are good for your skin, eat them.
Stay away from candy, processed and sugary foods, excess salt, white breads, alcohol, excess caffeine, fatty red meat and deep fried foods. Not easy, but the more you do it the easier it gets.
Dry skin, as with most minor ailments, can sometimes be managed by small lifestyle changes. Internally, by consuming foods and vitamins that are known to help, and externally, by avoiding known irritants whenever possible.
The use of healthy oils, taken as nutrients or used topically, would seem to be of most benefit according to my research and personal experiences.