Aging of the skin produces changes in the glands that open through the pores onto the skin surface. Atrophy of these glands reduces the moisture that the skin retains in the dead and dying cells that form the outer layer of the skin. With a seasonal drop in humidity such as occurs in winter, dry skin worsens. The dry air of central heating systems adds to the problem of dry skin. Exposure outdoors to the wind and cold is an additional factor.
Dry skin is easy to recognize by its scaly appearance and flaking. Often cracking occurs, and these cracks may become inflamed or secondarily infected. These cracks are portals for the entrance of irritants such as cosmetics, soaps, and lint from clothing, causing further inflammation.
Important Points in Treatment
Humidify the air in your home as much as possible, particularly during the drier months. If use of a central humidifier is not possible, portable humidifiers can humidify one or two rooms. One should humidify the bedroom first, followed by the most used room in the home. The traditional trick of placing an open jar or can of water on the radiator or by a heating vent can help add to the humidity in the room.
Avoid drying agents. These include harsh soaps, alcohol-based scents, and alcohol-based lotions. Wash no more often than is necessary. After bathing, apply moisturizing lotions while the skin is still damp. It is helpful to use moisturizers after hand washing or before going outside into the dry cold.
Notify Our Office If ...
- You have sudden onset of a skin rash that fails to subside in a week.