Are you suffering from dry skin?
It’s safe to say no likes the itchy, inflamed feeling of dry skin. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem that often affects the arms, thighs, lower legs, sides of the abdomen, even the lips. Dermatologist Peter Vignjevic, MD, shares the causes of dry skin and what you can do to make it better.
The culprit: Dry winter weather
The colder months can be brutal on your skin. Outdoors, the wind dries it out; indoors, it’s battered by artificial heating. The key to fighting back is being vigilant. “Moisturize and stay covered up as best you can. Those are the two big ones,” Dr. Vignjevic says. He also suggests switching to a heavier moisturizer with shea butter. To seal in maximum moisture, apply it to your skin after a shower or bath.
The culprit: Over-washing
Over-washing is especially problematic for the hands, Dr. Vignjevic says. “People wash their hands a lot, and you can definitely get hand dermatitis, caused by both the water and the soap.” He recommends reducing your exposure by wearing gloves for activities that involve your hands getting wet, like cooking or washing the dishes. When you do clean your hands, avoid harsh soaps (for example, those with “antiseptic” or “antibacterial” on the label), and be sure to apply moisturizer afterward—keep a bottle by the sink so you don’t forget. Hot baths and showers can also dry out your skin, so reduce the temperature or spend less time underwater. You can also try bath oils and other moisture-rich products.
The culprit: Aging
Maturing skin needs extra help when it comes to avoiding dryness. Dr. Vignjevic recommends trying anti-aging moisturizers, which are usually richer and may offer the skin added benefits. Serums, which have a liquid texture, can also rejuvenate aging skin by helping to repair damaged DNA, removing free radicals, and boosting the production of collagen and elastin (both are fibers that make your skin strong and elastic). In yours 40s especially, Dr. Vignjevic recommends using a serum.
The culprit: Medication
While they’re powerful at combatting zits, certain anti-acne medications can also cause dry skin. Dr. Vignjevic tells his patients to use a moisturizer in conjunction with the therapy to help keep skin hydrated.
The culprit: Other skin conditions
If your dry skin is persistent and you’re concerned that you may be suffering from a skin disorder, such as eczema or psoriasis, get it checked out by your family doctor. There is a wide variety of skin therapies that can help, Dr. Vignjevic says, including topical steroids and oral medications.
Get more skincare solutions
Looking for more skincare tips and tricks? Check out the Reader’s Digest Guide to Skin Care. From skin cancer to the best anti-aging treatments, you’ll find all the answers to your skincare concerns in this comprehensive, no-nonsense guide.