Babies’ skin is thinner and the sebaceous glands are not very active before adolescence. So babies and young children run a greater risk of having dry skin. In older people, it is hormonal changes, the thinning of the dermis and epidermis, and decreased blood circulation and sebum production that make the skin drier and more fragile. Dry skin has a tendency to wrinkle earlier than other types of skin.
There is a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. All types of skin can become dehydrated. There are two types of dehydration—superficial dehydration that dries out the surface of the skin (often young skin or sometimes acne-prone skin) and deep dehydration, where the skin lacks water and nourishment (skin lacking in lipids and aging skin).
Sun exposure, wind, indoor heating, and very cold temperatures (resulting in less moisture in the air) have a drying effect on the skin. Keep the temperature indoors around 20 °C and use a humidifier to keep the humidity level in the home at about 50% in summer and 30% in winter. Drinking water regularly can also prevent skin dehydration.
Hot water and soap dissolve the skin’s natural oils. Take showers or short baths (not more than 10 minutes) using warm rather than hot water. It is recommended that you pat yourself dry rather than rubbing, in order to keep the water on your skin. Avoid deodorizing soaps and choose a rich, moisturizing soap, a soap-free cleanser, or a cleansing gel containing moisturizer. Foaming bath products can also contribute to skin dryness. Add a fragrance-free oil to your bath water a few minutes before the end of your bath. The bath water will rehydrate your skin and the oil will trap the humidity there.
To treat dry skin, you should moisturize daily using a body milk or cream, ideally after bathing or showering.
Regular use of moisturizing products, morning and evening, is the best way to restore the skin’s protective film and treat dry skin. The product you choose should contain moisturizing ingredients and emollients. Moisturizing ingredients (glycerin/glycerol, lactic acid, urea, sorbitol, propylene glycol, etc.) absorb and retain water in the skin. Emollients (or oily substances: mineral oil, dimethicone, and glycerides) trap moisture in the skin and make it more supple. Moisturizing cream is more effective if applied less than three minutes after your shower or bath when the skin is still damp.
CAUTION Many creams contain colorants and perfumes that can irritate very sensitive skin and nullify the benefits of the cream.
CAUTION Dry skin is more sensitive to irritants and thus more difficult to treat, so moisturizing creams can help in the treatment of other skin problems, like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. Moisturizing creams make the medication the doctor prescribes more effective.
Did you know that moisturizing the skin help preserve blood vessel elasticity?