A Remedy for Dry and Flaky Skin
Dry, flaky skin is unsightly and often itchy. It's most common in the winter, when the humidity is low. The problem is compounded with the use of heating systems, which can drop humidity levels below 10 percent, while 30 to 40 percent is the optimal level for skin hydration, according to dermatologist Hillard H. Pearlstein, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Cleveland Clinic also mentions that some people have a genetic predisposition toward dry skin, and that the elderly are particularly prone. Fortunately, some steps of basic care can remedy dry and flaky skin.
Shower or bathe for 10 minutes or less. Use lukewarm water, and cleanse yourself only once a day. While bathing is important for hydrating skin, bathing too long or with hot water is counterproductive, drying out the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology's Skin Care Physicians site.
Use a soap made with moisturizing agents and without lye, otherwise known as superfatted soaps. Pearlstein points out that these don't exacerbate dry skin problems as soaps with lye do. He also suggests using soap less often, saying that Americans tend to cleanse themselves far more often than necessary, which takes its toll on skin.
Add oatmeal to your bath. Howard Donsky, M.D., a dermatologist at Toronto General Hospital, explains that adding 2 cups of colloidal (ground to a fine powder) oatmeal to a warm bath helps soothe dry skin and can even clean the body in place of soap.
Apply moisturizer. The best time to moisturize your skin is within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower. Skin Care Physicians explains that moisturizers don't add moisture to the skin but rather lock in moisture that's already there. FamilyDoctor.org also recommends using moisturizer three or four times throughout the day and petroleum jelly on dry hands at night.
Run a humidifier. Put it near your bed and keep it on all night. Dermatologist Kenneth Neldner, M.D., of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, explains that keeping the windows and bedroom door closed holds the humidity in so you get the maximum hydrating benefit.
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