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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Tips for Dry, Itchy Skin

Peeling skin can make you crazy – the redness, flaking and itchiness. Lathering on moisturizer can help, but it’s not enough. These 10 tips will soothe...

Dry skin isn’t usually serious, but it looks ugly and is infuriating. 
But before you go running to the dermatologist, here are 10 tips to try at home: 
1. Put Down the Soap Do you wash your dry skin with soap and water? 
You’re stripping away the skin’s protective natural oils along with dirt and grime. 
Switch to cleansing creams, gentle skin cleansers or bath or shower gels with moisturizers, not harsh soap. 
Your skin should feel soft and smooth after washing, never tight or dry. “Use fragrance-free, non-detergent, neutral-pH products to cleanse your skin,” says Monica K. Bedi, M.D., a Florida-based dermatologist.
Try mild soaps such as Cetaphil, Aveeno, Neutrogena, Basis or Dove. Experiment with several brands until you find the right one.
For a natural Rx, try aloe or a tepid water-oatmeal mixture on the irritated area. 
3. Soak Your Skin With MoisturizersWhat if you don’t want to give up a lifelong Ivory soap routine? 
About 75% of dry skin problems can be solved with one step, says Morgan P. O’Donoghue, M.D., a dermatologist in Sarasota, Fla. 
“After bathing in tepid water, moisturize immediately to help trap water in the surface cells, then pat dry,” he says.Thicker creams – like Eucerin, Cetaphil or Lubriderm – work better than lotions. And look for cosmetics with moisturizers. 
If your skin is extremely dry, apply baby oil or almond or vitamin E oil while it’s moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers and prevents water evaporation. 
Cleaning your face once a day – either morning or evening – should be enough to remove an average day’s buildup of dirt and oil. If your skin doesn't feel fresh, rinse with cool water in the morning and use a cleanser only at night. 
Also, lose the washcloth – it may irritate very dry skin. Instead, use your hands or a sponge.
4. Moisturize Your House Keep your home between 68 and 75 degrees, and use a portable humidifier to maintain moisture levels at 40%-50%. 
Tabletop humidifiers work for a single room, but require frequent fillings, sometimes several times a day.They also need careful cleaning to prevent growth of bacteria and fungi in the tank. Put it in your bedroom to hydrate your skin as you sleep. 
If you have severely dry skin or live in an arid climate, consider installing a humidifier that's built into your forced air heating and cooling system. It’s costlier but may be worth it in the long run. 
5. Wear Skin-Loving Fabrics Natural fibers like cotton and silk allow your skin to breathe. 
When you wash clothes, use fragrance-free detergents that won’t irritate, and skip fabric softeners, Dr. Bedi says. 
6. Run From the Sun Besides skin cancer, those warm rays can also cause dryness, wrinkles, rashes and blisters. 
So apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas 30 minutes before you go outside, even on foggy or cloudy days.
(Don't forget your ears, hands and the back of your neck.) Reapply regularly.Not sure what to buy? 
Look for a UVA/UVB sunscreen with Parsol 1789, titanium oxide or zinc oxide, and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. 
Many moisturizers also contain sunscreen, which hydrate and protect skin in one easy step. 
Avoid direct sun exposure, especially between noon and 3 p.m. 
If you must be outside, cover up and wear a shading hat or carry a parasol.
7. You Are What You Eat A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts is good for you inside and out. 
Certain foods, such as avocados with inflammation-reducing niacin, improve a complexion.Eat yellow and orange produce, such as carrots, cantaloupes and apricots, which are full of healthful antioxidants and vitamin A, which fight skin-aging free radicals. 
If you don’t eat a balanced diet, take a daily multivitamin. 
Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they’re diuretics, and cause the body and skin cells to lose fluids and important minerals. 
8. Live Healthfully Don’t smoke!
Besides its obvious health risks, smoking damages the skin. 
Nicotine constricts blood vessels, including the tiny capillaries that feed the skin, which deprives it of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive.Get enough sleep, because that’s when skin cells renew themselves best. 
And don’t forget your daily workout: Exercise boosts circulation and encourages blood flow to all parts of the body. 
9. Fight Dry Feet Low humidity depletes skin of its natural lipid layer, which prevents your skin from drying out. 
To counteract the lack of moisture in the air, try coating your feet in thick lotion and sleeping in cotton socks at night. 
For ultra-dry skin, cover your feet in a creamy lotion, wrap them in Saran Wrap and pull on a pair of socks for a couple hours. 
Nap or relax while the moisturizer soaks in.10. When All Else Fails, Seek Medical Treatment See a board-certified dermatologist if you have one or more of the following symptoms, Dr. O’Donoghue and Dr. Bedi say. 
The underlying causes could be diabetes, low thyroid condition, liver or kidney disease, or cancer, especially lymphoma:
  • Your skin doesn’t improve in spite of your best efforts. 

  • Dryness and itching are severe enough to keep you awake. 

  • You have open sores or infections from scratching. 

  • You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin.

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