Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. That’s how my skin feels in winter, when the humidity is low. No matter how much it may be raining outside, in here my skin’s dry, cracked and sore.
Some girls get it worse than others, having a genetic predisposition to dry skin. I’m not sure if I fall into that category, but it feels bad enough to me (and they say it gets worse with age, yea!).
My real problem zones are my knees and elbows, but it can also hit my shins, hands and the side of my tummy. What do I do about it?
Caring for dry skin
- When it’s bad, spending less time in the bath seems to help. I’ll take quickie baths or showers (5 to 10 minutes), using lukewarm water instead of hot. I’ll also try to limit myself to just one shower or bath per day until it clears up and will only use soap where I really need it. I may also add a few teaspoons of olive oil or lavender-scented oils to the bath.
- Apply moisturizer while the skin’s still damp, like right after towel drying (patting with the towel instead of rubbing, which can whisk away essential oils) from a shower or washing hands. It may take trial and error to find moisturizers that work well for you.
Most moisturizers contain barrier ingredients to trap water on the skin and binder ingredients to bring moisture up from the inner layer of skin to the top. Ingredients like glycerin, alpha hydroxy acids, urea and lactic acids (binders), combined with petrolatum, lanolin or silicone derivatives (barriers) work well for me.
- Using heavier creams or ointments in winter and lighter lotions in the spring, summer and fall.
- You’ve heard these a zillion times before, but drinking water sure seems to help. I know that when I drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and limit my time in the sun, my skin thanks me for it.
- Just like limiting time in the shower, when my skin’s drier than usual, I’ll wash my face no more than twice a day, using a gentle cleanser formulated for dry skin.
- Consider getting a humidifier at home, or ask the boss to swing for one at work. Indoor heaters suck the moisture from everything around them, including skin. A humidifier pumps moisture back into the air, quenching the heater’s thirst!
Is your skin dry, dehydrated or both?
Is it dermatitis?
Dry skin that isn’t treated early can turn into dermatitis, a more severe inflammation of the skin. With typical dry skin, there may be some dry flakes and minor itching, but if skin becomes red and inflamed, it could mean dermatitis, aka time to see a doctor.
Types of dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis strikes when skin comes into contact with something like poison oak or poison ivy that causes an immune reaction.
- Athlete’s foot, a fungal infection, appears as dry flaking on the soles of the feet.
- Atopic dermatitis is also known as eczema. This bad boy can last years and often runs in the family. It’s like regular dry skin but taken to the extreme. If your dry skin seems worse than average, you could have eczema, and it may be time to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
- Seborrheic dermatitis involves a red, scaly, itchy rash. It can pop up anywhere but seems to hit worse wherever there are lots of oil glands, like the scalp, the eyebrows and the sides of the nose.
Beat dry skin with a little help from your friends
- Clinique Moisture On-Line
- MAC Moisturelush Cream: Say Buh-bye to Dry
- Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,