Saturday, January 5, 2008

WE BEAUTY - Combating Dry, Itchy Skin

By Carol A. Allen

Rough patches, tightness, itchiness, peeling, flaking and scaling may all be signs of regular dry skin, and can be challenging to combat, especially during the cold, winter months.

It can cause discomfort and look unappealing, commonly appearing on the lower legs, hands, elbows, knees, and abdomen. The severity of dryness depends on your health, sex, age, where you live and the amount time you spend outdoors exposed to the sun.
Dry, cracked skin may or may not be itchy, but it's usually related to environmental factors such as heating and air conditioning, low humidity, wind, excessively hot or cold water, harsh soaps, detergents and solvents. It can be hereditary, or caused by metabolic factors such as excessive weight loss or an under-active thyroid gland which reduces the activity of oil and sweat glands. Stress, smoking, alcohol, prescription drugs and caffeine also contribute to dryness. Overuse of antiperspirants and perfumes can increase irritation and chapping.

Your outer layer of skin is made up of dead skin cells, lipids and natural oils which protect the inner layers of skin from toxins and irritating elements. Dryness and itchiness is a sign that your skin has lost its protection. And, as you age, your natural oil production slows down.

The most effective ways to soften and relieve dry skin is to use hypo-allergenic moisturizers such as ointments, cream and lotions. Liberally moisturizing your body three to four times per day is recommended, especially after bathing. Mixing baby oil or bath oils with a moisturizer adds an extra boost of protection.

Dry air affects your skin and lips. Use lip balms with sunscreen and avoid licking to prevent chapping. At home, use a humidifier for moisture and avoid direct contact with indoor heat sources.

Minimizing bath time to 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water instead of steamy hot water will lock in the skin's natural oils.

When shaving, use cream or gel, and change the blades often. Drink plenty of water daily to prevent dehydration. Protect your skin with an SPF 15 sunscreen containing UVA and UVB, even when it's cloudy or overcast. Avoid using harsh soaps that strip your skin of essential oils. Lightly scented or unscented mild soaps and detergents are more appropriate as residue may irritate sensitive, chapped skin. And, allow the skin to breathe by wearing silks and cottons instead of wools.

Products enriched with emollients like shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil, will help to retain the skin's moisture levels. Relieve dry hands with petroleum jelly and cotton-gloves overnight.

Dry, itchy skin may be signs of other diseases including diabetes and kidney disease. Related dry-skin conditions include small acne-like bump patches called keratosis pilaris, ichthyosis vulgaris which resembles fish scales, psoriasis which tends to be red and dry and asteatotic eczema, scaly, fissured skin which may be inflamed or bleed. Psoriasis, which flares periodically, is a thick, scaly build-up of dead skin.

For itchiness, if moisturizer doesn't help, try a one percent hydrocortisone steroid skin cream for a week. Consult a physician if conditions persist.

Carol Allen is a Skin Care Consultant and Make-Up Artist for Aloette Cosmetics.
You can book a personal consultation by calling (416) 410 7556 or by email to

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

there is nothing more important than skin care, we must take to think that acigarette smoking fetish

beautiful face is a flawless presentation.