Dry skin conditions are often caused by a defect in the skin barrier, allowing moisture to escape more easily and external irritants to penetrate the skin, leading to itchy skin and inflammation.
The key to getting this situation under control is to keep the skin moisturised at all times, using a product that efficiently replaces the low functioning barrier whilst feeding the skin essential fatty acids to improve it’s natural barrier function.
If the skin dries out, the symptoms worsen and it is harder to regain control. Apply a natural moisturiser throughout the day, around every four hours or more often if required. Use a thick natural ointment for overnight intensive treatment or for more severe areas.
When applying moisturisers make sure you follow the direction of you hair follicles to limit further skin irritations. Avoid moisturisers containing synthetic chemicals and perfumes to lower the risk of skin reaction and eczema flare-ups.
Showers and Baths
Water can be troublesome for those with very dry skin as it can dry the skin out further and cause irritation. Using a natural oil in the bath can be highly effective at combatting this. Avoid mineral oils or synthetic bath emollients, which can lead to dry skin and irritation; use vegetable based oils, high in essential fatty acids such as Balmonds Bath & Body Oil.
Be cautious of other products used at bath or shower time; most shampoos, conditioners and body washes contain sodium laurel/laureth sulphate (SLS), which is the chemical that makes washing products lather and foam. SLS found in bathroom products is exactly the same as those found in industrial degreasers and removes the oils on your skin the same way it would remove grease from heavy machinery, lowering skin proteins, allowing environmental contaminants easier access to the sensitive layers of the skin. Try investigating shampoos, conditioners and bathroom products that are kinder to your skin. Many SLS free products are available on the high street and also in health shops. Always read the label - if you don't recognise an ingredient, look it up and check on possible side effects.
Avoid very hot water in the bath or shower. Pat your skin dry after washing – rubbing furiously with a towel can whisk away the skin's natural moisture barrier and cause irritation.
Remember that any frequent wetting and drying of the skin can make matters worse. Commonly we assume we need to bath or shower every day but people with sore skin may not be able to tolerate this. If your skin is suffering, try bathing or taking a shower once every three days or so, washing in between.
Make-up & Cosmetics
If you wear make up it is likely that this is something that comes in contact with your skin every day. If you suffer with sensitive skin, make sure the make up you are using is gentle and does not contain known skin irritants, try switching to a natural brand if you are struggling with eczema around the eyes or on the face. Be cautious of all cosmetics used if your skin is dry and sensitive, many standard ingredients in cosmetics can add to this problem, such as synthetic perfumes, parabens and preservatives.
Bear in mind that products you use in your hair will come into contact with the skin on your face, scalp and around your eyes, which can cause dryness and irritation; wherever possible, switch to natural cosmetics if your skin is struggling. Make sure you take your make up off every night before sleeping and try to have at least one day per week make up free to give your skin a break.
Make drinking water part of your daily skin routine as dehydration can really aggravate dry skin. We lose up to up to around 3 litres of water from our bodies every single day; 1 – 2 litres through urine, ½ litre breathing and around ½ litre through sweat (more during physical exercise or in hot weather).
Make sure you are drinking at least 2 litres of water each day to replace the water loss and to avoid dehydration. Your whole body will thank you!