Dry skin can be a common complaint as the weather gets cooler and there are some easy ways to combat this. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and is our first form of defence against the external environment, it relies upon the integrity of the hydrolipid film on our skin surface to protect us from mechanical insults, microorganisms, chemicals, allergens and water loss. Dry skin is a sign that our protective barrier function has been compromised.
When assessing dry skin, it is important to note there are two types of dry skin, lipid and water dry skin, these can be present together or independently.
Lipid (Oil) dry – this is when we are not producing enough oil in the skin, our skin may appear rough and flaky and wrinkles are more pronounced.
Water dry – this is dehydrated skin that lacks water content, while it may appear flaky it generally feels tight and fine lines can form easily. Water dry skin can be present even when there is plenty of oil, so if you’re an Acne sufferer despite all that excess oil you may still have dry skin.
Top tips to keep dry skin under control:
Ensure you stay adequately hydrated, what this means is you need to get the right amount of water for you. 2 litres of water is the amount generally recommended for adults however your requirements do change depending on weight and physical activity level. The best way to work out how much water you actually need is to have 33mls of water for each kg of body weight so if you weigh 55kgs that’s 1.81 litres or if you weigh 85kgs that’s 2.8 litres. For dry skin sufferers I always recommend you drink one full glass of water as soon as you get out of the shower or bath to help rehydrate the skin. For a more efficient way to hydrate the body it is best to consume your water intake in small amounts throughout the day as opposed to a large amount at once.
Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea act as diuretics increasing our urine output which can cause us to feel more dehydrated. A good tip is to drink an extra cup of water for whatever tea of coffee you may have. The good news is if you are a herbal tea drinker these do not contain caffeine and can actually count as a part of your water intake for the day.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in foods such as oily fish (Australian and Atlantic Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna and Sardines), Nuts & Seeds (Walnuts, chia seeds and linseeds) as well as good quality plant oils such as flax seed oil. These Omega 3 fatty acids are great at reducing inflammatory markers, however they are also beneficial in building up the protective hydrolipid layer of our skin which is usually vulnerable to damage in dry skin conditions.
As a Naturopath I always assess my patient’s digestive capacity to ensure their body is making the most out of the food you are putting in. If you feel tired, slow or sluggish or a general feeling of unwell after eating a fatty meal, have pale coloured or stools (faeces) that float or suffer from liver or gallbladder issues or high cholesterol this may be a sign your body is unable to digest fats adequately and you should discuss this with your practitioner as correcting this issue may help reduce your dry skin.
Whilst hot showers may feel good especially as the weather gets cooler, the hot water is not a good idea for dry skin. Hot showers strip your body of its natural oil barrier, reducing its ability keep water within the cells which is keeping it smooth and moist. Limit showers or baths to 5-10 minutes and opt for warm rather than hot water.
By using rich nourishing moisturizers and oils on the skin you will help to provide the much-needed hydration to protect and repair your skin. Look for hydrating ingredients like shea butter, nut and seed oils like avocado, rosehip and coconut. I like to use an organic coconut oil at night all over my face and body to re-hydrate my skin.
Dry skin can be problematic as the weather changes and for many people it can be a common everyday occurrence. These tips can be helpful to support the integrity or your skin and its protective barrier.
If you suffer from persistent dry skin or conditions such as Eczema or Psoriasis and would like to know more about the Naturopathic management of these conditions you can book a free 10-minute phone chat with me here.
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Written by Natalie Earles (Clinical Naturopath)
Natalie is a Clinical Naturopath and runs the Natural Dermatology program at Essendon Natural Health. She has a special focus on the treatment of dermatological complaints and takes care in providing a personalised treatment plan to support her patients. She is available for consultations on Monday, Wednesday and the first Saturday of the month.
Natalie is an empathetic and caring Clinical Naturopath who creates a relaxed and non-judgemental environment for her clients. She has a special interest in the management of skin conditions and digestive disturbances. She is registered with the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA).