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Dry Skin
Types of Dry Skin and Risk factors

Dry skin maybe physiological or pathological. Physiological dry skin occurs in the absence of any skin or systemic disease and is related to age and lifestyle factors like those given below:

Children and Elderly have less Natural Moisturizing Factor synthesizing abilities while post menopausal levels show reduced intercellular lipids.

Decreased humidity can lead to more evaporation of moisture from the skin. This is seen in dry climate of both summers and winters.

Outdoor pollutants from industrial processes and automobile exhaust and indoor use of Air conditioners also decrease the moisture in the environment and increase loss of skin moisture.

Frequent washing and use of chemical soaps and cosmetics can contribute to dry skin.

Pathological dry skin occurs due to the presence of a skin disease or also sometimes in certain generalized body diseases like given below:

  • Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Icthyosis (Abnormal skin thickening)
  • Vitamin deficiency (A,B,C E)
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sjogren’s syndrome (an auto-immune disorder)
Managing and Treating Dry Skin

This can be done by lifestyle modifications and the use of moisturisers

Lifestyle factors

  • Include more of unsaturated omega fatty acids in diet like conola, flaxseed and olive oil. Reduce saturated fats and high cholesterol diet
  • Include lot of fresh fruits in the diet as they are rich in antioxidants like bioflavanoids along with vitamins and water.
  • Foods that contain lipoic acid like Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, poultry, calf liver and round steak also proect the skin from the harsh effects of ultraviolet light and environmental pollutants
  • Foods rich in Vitamin A,B, E and C should be consumed like sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, olives, spinach, broccoli, nuts along with fruits and green leafy vegetables.
  • Adequate fibre should also be included in diet which helps to flush out environmental toxins.
  • Good amount of water intake is important of at least 1.5-2 litres/day

Do’s and Dont’s for dry skin:

  • Avoid sitting under direct AC blasts for prolonged periods.
  • Shift preferences to natural soaps with moisturizers and reduce cosmetic use. Use of a pH balanced mild cleanser for the face is recommended.
  • Restrict face washing to not more than 2-3 times / day.
  • Bath or showers should be with warm water, not hot and should not be prolonged (should be less than 15 min). The towel should not be rubbed on the skin but dabbed lightly.
  • Always apply a sunscreen during prolonged outdoor activity in the sun
  • Regular exercise also helps in maintenance of skin moisture
  • Use of an appropriate moisturizer is very helpful in treating and managing dry skin.
Dry Skin & Moisturisers

Moisturisers are substances which increase the moisture in the skin. An ideal moisturizer should work as follows:

  • Form a protective coating which prevents loss of skin moisture from the skin and also protects the skin from environmental damage
  • Provides antioxidants, anti-inflammatory substances along with vital vitamins to protect against skin damage
  • Provide oily substances to restore skin oils but should not leave a greasy finishing feel on the skin

Selection of a good complete moisturizer is essential as most moisturisers mainly form protective coatings only. Also the moisturiser should provide prolonged protection and moisturisation requiring minimal re-application in the day.

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