How Do I Treat Dry Skin?

How do I treat dry skin? For dry skin treatment, use moisturizers or cleansers like Cetaphil and avoid skin care products containing alcohol. Dry skin is caused by genetics or dry air. During summer months...

Dry skin is caused by genetics or dry air. During summer months it is essential to moisturize and keep the skin hydrated, if not your skin will dry up like a prune.

"As we mature, we lose phospholipids in the skin which actually hold on to water," says Dr. Susan Weinkle is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida. She also serves on the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology. "Just like everything, with time our bodies change. A change in the phospholid content of the skin causes the skin not to hold onto water as effectively. Your skin is actually dry, not from lack of oil, but from lack of water."

When treating dry skin, one should exfoliate before applying any type of cream, lotion or oil. Dead skin cells over time build up and become unresponsive to lotions or creams. In order for moisturizer to effectively work, get rid of the dead skin. After exfoliating, then you can moisturize. Apply your favorite moisturizer to your face and body.

"The best way to treat dry skin is to seal in moisture by forming a protective layer over it," says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, codirector of laser surgery at the Washington Institute of Dermatological Laser Surgery. In order of effectiveness try oil, then cream and then lotion. The difference between a cream and a lotion is the oil to water ratio.

"To treat this, first make sure that anytime you cleanse your skin you also apply a nice moisturizer," says Weinkle. "You should be using a moisturizer in the morning and at night. There are a lot of excellent moisturizers available on the market these days. Make sure that you use a potent emollient, and keep things that are drying agents such as alcohol or astringents off the skin so not to aggravate the dryness. It is also important to use lukewarm water rather than not water. Hot water is very drying to the skin. I actually like to wash my face with Cetaphil. Cetaphil is a cleanser that I rub on my dry skin, and then take a dry towel to wipe it off with no water."

To prevent dryness of skin, one should avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol. They act as diuretics and suck out moisture in the skin. Add oil when soaking in a hot bath. Add a tablespoon or so of almond, jojoba, olive or hazelnut oil to your bath water to seal in moisture. Limit hot water when taking a shower, washing your face, hands, etc. According to Ashinoff, sitting in water dehydrates the skin. She recommends taking a quick tepid shower instead, using a non-soap cleanser. When you step out, before you grab your towel, apply body oil or a rich moisturizer to your damp skin, all moisturizers work better when your skin is moist. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products that contain fragrance, paraffin and lanolin.

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