There are many known causes of dry cracked skin including constant exposure to water, solvents and similar moisture robbing ingredients.
Ironically the main cause of dried up skin is lack of water while constant exposure to hot soapy water can accelerate the actual cracking which results when moisture is lost from the skin surface
When water is lost from the surface of the skin it leaves behind layers of dry skin cells.
Moisture challenged skin can actually become brittle much like hair or fingernails.
When means that they can't bend without splitting or cracking.
Some of the most common causes of dry skin include:
1. Dry air 2. Low humidity 3. Wind 4. Home heating and air conditioning systems 5. Cold winter air 6. Common irritants such as detergents, perfumes and some types of skin lotions 7. Nail polish remover 8. Rubbing alcohol 9. Everyday chemicals such as cleansers, paints, solvents or similar 10. Allergic reactions to foods or skin irritants 11. Psoriasis, eczema or rashes 12. Some prescription drugs 13. Excessive alcohol consumption 14. Smoking 15. Caffeine consumption 16. Nutritional deficiencies
Remedies For Healing Dry, Crackling Skin
There are many natural remedies for dry skin including:
1. Avoid use of hot water including showers and baths whenever possible.
The lower the water temperature, the less moisture is stripped from your skin. Avoid using rough wash clothes.
2. Pat skin dry instead of rubbing. Gently pat water off your skin instead of rubbing it dry.
This will save your skin from the common towel abuse most people habitually inflict on their skin.
When patting the skin dry instead of rubbing your skin will retain more moisture. Add body moisturizer on top of moist skin to seal in more moisture.
3. Purchase body creams, oils and lotions containing lactic acid and urea which is known to draw moisture into the cells.
4. Treat dry skin with moisture enhancing masks. An example of a great home mask is one which contains avocados and honey, both extremely moisturizing ingredients.
An avocado and honey mask, when allowed to remain on the skin for 15 minutes or more is especially great for dry or wrinkled skin. Create the mask by combining 1/2 of an organic ripe masked avocado with 1/4 cup of warm honey.
5. Always carry moisturizers in your handbag and apply it liberally after you wash your hands to keep skin moist and supple.
6. Keep skin covered whenever exposed to cold, windy or dry weather.
7. Select a slightly acidic cleanser whenever possible. This will stop skin from continuing to dry out.
8. Soak hands and feet for 15-20 minutes before bed in warm water. Pat dry and slather on moisture enhancing cream or petroleum jelly to seal in moisture.
Cover hands and feet with cotton socks and gloves to seal in moisture and to protect your bedding from the lotions or jelly.
9. Install a humidifier switching it on at bedtime to add moisture to your sleeping area. Dry air draws moisture out of your skin.
10. Avoid sleeping near an open window where dry air might blow across your body while you're sleeping.
11. Avoid using lip balms which contain salicylic acid which may be irritating and moisture robbing.
Search for lip balms with at least 40% petrolatum in the mix. Good options may include Chapstick Medicated or CortiBalm.
12. Make sure you are properly hydrated from the inside out with water and appropriate liquids. While studies have shown there is little benefit from increasing daily water intake significantly, other studies have shown dehydration may impact the skin if it's severe.
13. Avoid eating or drinking foods which commonly cause dehydration.
14. Minimize caffeine consumption whenever possible.
Should you minimize caffeine consumption which may add to overall dehydration? This needs to be a personal decision since some studies have shown that for every cup of coffee consumed the risk of skin cancer drops by approximately 5%. Why? Coffee's antioxidants stop skin-cancer cells from dividing.
Not only is dry and cracked skin uncomfortable, it can result in itching and scaling. However, there are many techniques you can use to prevent dry skin before it occurs or minimize it's impact once it does appear.
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- Revised Publication Date: 11/01/10
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