As our largest and often most visible organ, maintaining healthy skin is perhaps the most important part of any person’s anti-aging efforts. And of all the problems our skin can have as we get older, dry skin is one of the most common—and, with proper healthy skin care, one of the easiest to avoid.
Dry skin, or xerosis, occurs when skin loses too much water and/or oil and subsequently dries out. While dry skin can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons—including skin diseases, prolonged sun exposure, weather conditions, and even swimming—it is also part of the natural aging process. As we get older, skin becomes drier and thinner, becoming more noticeable and needing daily treatment. Dry skin is usually at its worst on the arms and lower legs.
Dry skin can cause the skin to suffer a wide range of damage to otherwise healthy skin, including cracks, flaking, lines, scaling, peeling, redness, and fissures that may be prone to bleeding. Dry skin may also feel tighter, rougher, and itchier than healthy skin, as well as appear dehydrated or look as if it is being stretched.
As dry skin comes with aging, it can cause wrinkles, lines and general discomfort. However, more serious problems can occur, including those that fall under ichthyosis, a group of conditions which cause thicker, scaly, dry skin. These symptoms currently cannot be cured, only managed with topical medications and salt water. Ichthyosis can be hereditary or acquired through malignant, inflammatory, or hormonal disorders. The damage done to the skin may also cause mental distress.
Thankfully, in most cases, maintaining healthy skin and keeping away dryness is easy and involves doing things you would have done as part of your anti-aging efforts anyway. For starters, treat your healthy skin properly and gently by not causing it unnecessary damage through daily routines. When showering, keep it short, use warm rather than hot water, and use mild cleansers over strong soaps; otherwise, you are needlessly purging oils that maintain healthy skin from the body.
Maintain healthy skin—and a healthy body overall—by not smoking (it causes wrinkles), managing your stress (it leads to acne breakouts, among many other things), and eating a healthy diet packed with fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. A high intake of vitamin C and low consumption of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates can also help with having smooth, healthy skin. Also, the sun can dry skin out and cause age spots and wrinkles—protect yourself outside by using sunscreen, wearing proper protective clothing, and staying in the shade whenever possible.
Finally, invest in a good moisturizer for healthy skin. On top of preventing and healing dry skin, moisturizers can improve the tone and texture of your skin, hide flaws, and can protect sensitive skin. If you suffer from or are worried about having dry skin, use a moisturizer that’s oil-based and has a thicker texture. Also look for ones that contain grape seed oil, antioxidants, or dimethicone, as these ingredients will help keep your healthy skin hydrated. If your dry skin is exceptionally bad, use a petrolatum-based product.
While these treatments should help restore healthy skin, it’s possible some symptoms will still remain. If you still have redness, open sores and/or infections from scratching, large patches of peeling or scaling skin, problems sleeping due to itchiness, or your dry skin has shown no improvement at all, consult with your doctor or dermatologist immediately.
“Dry skin,” Mayo Clinic web site; https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560, last accessed June 18, 2013.
“Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin,” Mayo Clinic web site; https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-care/SN00003, last accessed June 18, 2013.
“Moisturizers: Options for softer skin,” Mayo Clinic web site; https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/moisturizers/SN00042, last accessed June 18, 2013.
“Ichthyosis,” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases web site; https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Ichthyosis/, last accessed June 18, 2013.
“Dry skin,” American Academy of Dermatology web site; https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a—d/dry-skin, last accessed June 18, 2013.
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