Heading into the winter season almost everyone dreads how the cold outdoor air and drying heated indoor air can throw off the balance of their skin.
Itchy, scaly dry skin can be a misery to live with and at some point it seems to hit us all that there is one patch that is driving us crazy and it seems that there is nothing we can do about it.
You have to make sure that you don't have some underlying medical condition that is making your skin dry. There are many health reasons that can cause dry skin including being deficient in some vitamins so make sure with your doctor that this is not something more serious.
If it is only annoying, irritating dry skin then read on for some great solutions.
Sometimes you don't need to add anything to your skin but see if you need to take something away. Is there any possiblilty that your laundry detergent or fabric softener could be irritating your skin and making it dry out?
If you are over using your laundry soap then it can build up in your clothes. If you think this is what you have been doing then ideally you should just wash your clothes once with plain water and rinse them twice. If you don't feel comfortable not washing your clothes then use a quarter of the normal amount of laundry detergent and rinse them twice.
If the laundry soap is a problem then you will have to switch over to something that is more naturally based. Laundry soaps that are based on natural ingredients wash out of the clothes more completely so your skin is not against a mix of chemicals day and night.
Fabric softener can lead to the same problems if you have a sensitivity to it. If you must use fabric softeners again look for something that is naturally based. Unfortunately chemical fabric softeners can take months if not a year to get out of your clothes through normal washing. It is not required to label the chemicals that go into fabric softeners so it can be hard to guess what is irritating your skin.
You might want to switch to a very simple body soap as the added ingredients of perfumes and deodorants in many soap bars can also cause you skin problems.
One more thing to consider is if you are letting your skin breath enough, especially during the cold months when we are always covered. Your skin needs oxygen and if you are wearing synthetic clothing all the time the sweat and oils are getting trapped against your skin for hours at a time. It is simple enough to wear natural fiber clothes such as cotton.
If your dry skin is local such as on your hands or feet then make sure that you are not handling, wearing, or being exposed to something that is causing it to dry out.
You need to be gentle with your skin. If you are washing it with very hot water constantly then you are stripping away the natural moisture that is in your skin. If you do not have to use hot water then change to room temperature water.
While many moisturizers claim that they will work wonders on your skin what you want is something with very few ingredients. The idea of a moisturizer is to trap the existing water on your skin to keep it moist. That is why the best time to moisturize yourself is after a bath or shower.
One of the best natural moisturizers around is almond oil. If you have no nut allergies then this smooth light oil will work wonders on your skin. If you can not use almond oil then olive oil is also an excellent moisturizer. (While baby oil has been suggested as a good moisturizer for years it is not a natural product but made from mineral oil, a petroleum byproduct, and added scent.)
If you prefer to use a commercial moisturizer then start with something that is unscented. The scent does not enhance the moisturizer and can actually irritate your skin (something I found out the hard way when I used a peppermint moisturizer and I broke out in hives!)
Some people just have naturally dry skin and they might want to consider having a separate humidifier in their bedroom to see if this will help alleviate the problem. You definitely should have a humidifier on your furnace if you live in a cold climate with forced air heat.
To sooth your whole body take a warm bath that has a hand full of oatmeal added to it. Gently exfoliate your skin with a wash cloth and then put on your moisturizer. You do not want to aggravate your skin by constant scratching but you do need to gently get rid of the old skin through exfoliating and make sure that you moisturize immediately afterward.
If your skin is particularly dry and patchy then sooth it with either yougurt or sour cream. Let it sit on your skin for 15 minutes and then wash off with tepid water.
If your dry skin is beginning to hurt then seek out the advice of your doctor or pharmacist as you might be dealing with a allergy. If the skin is beginning to crack then find medical attention quickly as infections can form in the cracks and it can become a very serious condition.
While dry skin can be annoying, by treating it gently, avoiding drying and irritating products and moisturizing it daily with natural products you will find relief.
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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011