Some people are troubled by the fact that their skin remains dry and itches a lot. Dryness leads to itchiness with an urge for scratching, which can be present continuously or intermittently. Any how it becomes uncomfortable and embarrassing for the sufferer.
Dryness of the skin can be due to many causes. With advancing age the skin loses its elasticity as well as moisture content and starts getting drier. In most of the people, exposure to dust or very cold weather or very hot sun, robs the skin of its moisture leaving it dry. Very hot showers can also result in dry skin. Use of excess soap leads to a dry skin as it depletes the skin of its moisture.
Deficiency of vitamin B. complex, particularly B3 and B5, results in dry and itchy skin. Deficiency of thyroid hormones and diabetes mellitus are medical disorders that can have dryness of skin as one of the manifestations. Some collagen disorders like scleroderma cause intense dryness and tightness of skin. Mostly middle aged women are affected.
Many cosmetics products, particularly the anti acne ones, contain chemicals which lead to dryness of skin. Some medicines used for management of hypertension and lipid abnormalities cause dry skin as an adverse effect. In some cases, the skin dryness is simply inborn, i.e, there is a tendency for dry skin.
Whatever the reasons for a dry skin, it is uncomfortable for the affected person. In case of extreme dryness, the part affected looks ungainly, like cracked lips or heels. Moreover this becomes a source of secondary infections as well augmenting pruritis and causing pain.
Thus every person tries to avoid the skin becoming dry. To achieve this there are few tips to be followed. Keep yourself protected from dust, very hot or cold weather. Avoid hot showers and use lukewarm water for bath. Avoid excess use of soap. Don’t rub the skin dry immediately after washing or a bath. Apply some lubricating substance like a moisturizing lotion till the body is still damp. This helps in retaining moisture.
Drinking lots of water also helps in moistening skin. Fresh fruits like papaya; leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts contain nutrients necessary for improving texture of dry skin.
There is a huge array of lotions and creams available for preventing dry skin. But one should judge by themselves whether it is useful or not and is not producing any allergy or harm. There are numerous home remedies and herbal products said to be beneficial for dry skin. Face packs of papaya, avocado and aloe vera, among others, are useful in providing a smooth complexion and skin.
Apart from these measures, a regular routine, where one sleeps and wakes in right time also helps in keeping skin moist and beautiful. Moving bowels regularly is also useful in this regard. For that one needs to take a high fiber diet and lots of water.
Any kind of regular exercise removes grime from the body through sweat and keeps skin glowing. Lastly it is very important to know that alcohol and tobacco both are harmful for skin. One desiring a beautiful skin should give it up.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Butaro Hospital.