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» Five Ways to Deal with Dry Skin

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Despite the rather minor threat dry skin offers to your overall health, few things can cause as much uncomfortable irritation as when you suffer from itchy, flaky, dry skin. When you suffer from dry skin, you want relief and fast. However, seeking a way to help ease dry skin involves more than just what type of lotion you apply to the affected area. It also depends on the clothes you wear, the air around you, and how you keep your skin clean.

The next time dry skin threatens to take your sanity, try these five tips toward smoother skin.

Warm But Not Hot

While nice steamy showers feel great on the body, that hot water doesn’t do your dry skin any favors. The problem with hot showers is that they strip your body of the natural oils in the skin that help to keep moisture trapped and your skin feeling moist and smooth.

To help prevent your next shower from drying out your skin, turn down the water temperature and don’t stay under the showerhead for too long. Most dermatologists recommend taking short, warm showers that last for no longer than five to 10 minutes. Once finished, gently pat yourself dry and moisturize your skin.

Gently Cleanse

In addition to extremely hot water, washing with harsh soaps can also cause you to develop dry skin. Instead of using abrasive products, try switching to soapless cleansers instead. Gentle, fragrance free soaps make a great option for keeping your skin soft when compared to products that feature antibacterial additives or deodorants that are harsh on the skin.

For patients with sensitive skin, dermatologists recommend cleansers that contain ceramides, a fatty molecule found in the outer layer of the skin that help maintain moisture. Many types of skin care products contain synthesized ceramides to help replace what is lost naturally by the body through aging.

You should also use peels, toners, and other astringents made with alcohol sparingly to avoid drying out your skin. When you do exfoliate, don’t scrub too hard or too much, as this can thicken and irritate your skin.

Smartly Shave

Shaving can easily irritate dry skin. As you shave away unwanted hair, you also remove natural oils from your skin.  Fortunately, you can avoid drying out your skin by taking a few precautions prior to shaving. For starters, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends shaving right after you shower when hairs are more pliable and softer, which makes shaving easier.

You should always use a shaving gel or cream, and shave in the direction in which your hair naturally grows in order to protect your skin. Make sure you frequently replace the blades of your razor and to thoroughly rinse any blade you’ve used previously.

Avoid Sunlight

Sun damage ranks as one of the most common causes of dry skin, rough skin, and wrinkles. You can help to reduce the damage caused to your skin by the sun’s UV light by wearing a sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF whenever you head outside. Since excessive sweating can also irritate your skin, try wearing loose, light, long-sleeved shirts when outside to avoid overheating.

Make Sure to Moisturize

Even the simplest moisturizing products can help to soothe irritated skin. If you like to use a heavier moisturizer, look for one that contains glycerin, stearic acid, ceramindes or shea butter. All of which act as rich moisturizers that can help replenish the oils in your skin that act as a barrier to keep moisture from escaping.

Whichever product you choose, make sure you take a smart and consistent approach to moisturizing your skin. Every moisturizing routine should include such steps as:

  • Washing with a liquid cleanser that contains ceramides
  • Patting your skin dry for less than 20 seconds after bathing
  • Using a heavy moisturizer on damp skin shortly after bathing to keep moisture trapped within the skin
  • Use moisturizer on your hands following each time you wash them.

By following these simple steps, along with those listed above, you can help to prevent dry skin.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Bruno da Costa, a dentist at Harmony Dental, Beaverton.

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