Saturday, January 22, 2011

Win the War against Dry Skin

The main cause of dry skin (Xerosis) is exposure to factors that strip away essential, protective lipids from our skin. There are also medical reasons for dry skin such as certain drugs, hypothyroidism or diabetes which should be evaluated and treated by your doctor. But for the 100 million of us that suffer from the other common causes of dry skin, here are some tips to help protect the largest organ of our body.

With every change in the season, there’s a new battle that you need to fight to keep your skin in good health. And the toughest of these is fighting dry and hard skin, which is usually seen during winters. And well, it’s not just the weather that makes your skin dry and cracked; there could be several other reasons behind the problem such as poor eating habits, malfunctioning subcutaneous oil glands, thyroid malfunction and side effects of prescription drugs.

The intensity of the dry skin problem may vary, and if the problem is mild, a regular application of some basic moisturizer may be quite enough way to prevent the skin from drying out. However, when your dry skin problem is a little on the extreme, and you experience cracking of the skin, then you need to think beyond the regular moisturizers and cold creams. Whatever be the severity of the problem, make it a golden rule to never use hot water to wash your face and to never rub the towel on your skin. Be gentle to your skin and always pat it dry, because vigorous rubbing can irritate and damage the skin. And while your skin is still damp, apply some moisturizer to your skin. This will help to lock in the moisture in the skin tissues before it evaporates into the air. Cleansing and moisturizing are two activities which must take place one after the other. And when you apply the moisturizer, be sure to apply it around your eyes and on your throat, because most women tend to ignore these areas. To cleanse your skin, go in for the mildest of the cleansers, and preferably one which has a neutral pH balance as these are less likely to contain skin irritating detergents.

And before you finally crash for the day, make it a habit to cleanse and moisturize your face and you’ll be glad to see soft and moisturized skin when you get up the next morning. And lastly, milk is known to offer a lot of relief in dry skin problem, so how about pampering your skin with a milk bath at least once a week.

You are what you eat. Eating foods rich in Vitamin E and F such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and salmon or taking omega rich supplements will result in a visible difference to your dry skin within 6 weeks.

A high carb, high sugar diet, on the other hand, will increase your cortisol or stress hormone levels triggering the inflammatory response that leads to dry, sensitive skin.

Stop the hand-sanitizer epidemic! The main antiseptic ingredient in anti-bacterial hand sanitizers is 70% or more ethyl alcohol which can dry and irritate skin. Many people don’t even wash their hands anymore opting instead to use sanitizer. At a minimum, choose one that also contains glycerin and aloe.

Use sunblock everyday all year round. UVA and UVB rays are always there. They don’t disappear as the seasons change or when daylight savings time kicks in. In fact, snow reflects 85% of UV radiation compared to 2% from grass (known as the Albedo Effect) so applying a 30 SPF sunblock is essential to protect your skin from oxidative stress. This leads to an inflammatory response in the skin resulting in more wrinkles and drier skin.

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