Skin Care Tips
How To Beat Dry Skin
by Dr. Peter Helton, board certified dermatologist
As a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic dermatology, Iíve devoted my life to making people look better, and feel better about themselves. But underlying beauty is health, particularly as it relates to skin.
Taking proper care of your skin can do more to enhance your appearance than all the lotions, creams and makeup that are often applied to cover up unhealthy skin. It can even help you avoid the dry skin, rashes and other diseases which necessitate an expensive visit to a dermatologist.
The winter months, of course, pose unique challenges and can create serious dry skin problems. Constantly switching between unnaturally dry indoor air, and the harsh cold and wind outdoors removes moisture from the skin. While creams and lotions replace some of that moisture, it is far better to take steps to prevent those losses in the first place.
- Realize that the skin is a living organ, the bodyís largest, not just a covering like the upholstery on your couch. General health rules regarding nutrition, proper rest and exercise all contribute to the overall health of the skin.
But, there are some special that will help you avoid dry skin and stay healthy.
Here are a few that are especially important during the colder months.
First, keep well hydrated. This is probably easier to remember during summer, but is just as important in winter. In addition to eggnog and champagne, drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This keeps skin moisturized and flushes toxins out of your body.
Next, use sun block. Although skin is less exposed in winter, ultraviolet rays can be particularly intense on clear winter days. Even when cloudy, UV rays still penetrate. If you go skiing, UV exposure is even greater. Bottom line; use a good sunscreen that blocks both types of ultraviolet radiation - UVA and UVB.
- Keep out the chemicals. Your skin wasnít designed to deal with dish soap, bleach, hair coloring and thousands of other everyday chemicals
that can cause dry skin. Many common cleaners and solvents specify the wearing of gloves. Always follow such advice. Even products that donít require gloves can still suck the oils and moisture out of the skin, leaving it dry, cracked and irritated. This even applies to antibacterial soap. As you canít wear gloves all the time, I recommend Gloves In A Bottle, and Skin MD Natural, which I will explain in more detail later.
- Use gentle cleansers on the face. The face is more delicate than other parts of the body and deserves special treatment. I recommend Cetaphil from Galderma Laboratories for people with dry skin.
- Get rid of dead skin. Most ďdry skinĒ is actually skin that is ready to fall off. Exfoliation, therefore, should be part of your regular routine. Use a washcloth when washing your face and then work up to something like a loofa if you can. Exfoliation helps moisturizers and other skin care products do a better job. By exfoliating before you apply moisturizer, it isnít blocked by dead cells.
Using Your Body's Defenses
As I mentioned above, keeping your skin healthy and beautiful requires keeping out the harsh chemicals. Since the skin is designed as the barrier between your internal organs and the outside world, it is already very tough. But it wasnít built for the range of chemicals that we come in contact with today. It is well known that these chemicals are harmful if swallowed. Many are also bad for the skin.
If you get bleach on your hands, it wonít kill you, but it will keep you from having the smooth, soft skin you desire.
Peter Helton, D.O.
Newport Beach, CA
Peter Helton, D.O. is the medical director of the Helton Skin and Laser Institute in Newport Beach, California. Dr. Helton specializes in non-surgical methods of improving his patient's appearance. Using his artistic, creative and medical knowledge as one of the nation's most renowned Cosmetic Dermatologists, his patients receive results that are second to none.
Even if you wear gloves while cleaning, you certainly donít when washing your hands, reading the newspaper or the many other day-to-day activities that remove moisture and cause dry skin. Then there are other parts of the body such as the feet, which become dry and rough. Even your elbows or the parts of the arms which touch the edge of your desk when working on the computer need help.
While moisturizers can replace what is lost, they are not an ideal solution. To begin with, they donít prevent the absorption of chemicals into the skin. Then there is the problem of the bodyís response to the moisturizers. If the body thinks it has enough of something, it cuts down production. For example, drinking caffeine raises the bodyís production of adrenaline, giving you more energy. Over time, however, the body compensates for the caffeine by cutting down on its adrenaline production. It gets to the point where people canít wake up in the morning till that first cup of coffee hits their bloodstream.
The same applies to moisturizers. Constant use makes the body think it has enough moisture and it cuts back on producing its own moisture. The real answer, like so many other aspects of medicine, is prevention not cure.
This is where shielding lotions like Gloves in a Bottle and Skin MD Natural enter the picture. A shielding lotion is a moisturizer which is designed to bond with and protect the skin. It seals the skin to prevent the loss of your own natural moisture as well as providing additional moisture. Most skin products are simply oil based or lanolin based and so they sit on top of the skin where they can wash right off when you clean your hands or do the dishes. Gloves In A Bottle, on the other hand, does not wash away since it is absorbed into the outer layer of skin. It acts as a protective barrier that keeps inside your own natural moisture while repelling outside chemicals. It is gentle and suitable for all skin types and is a great way to prevent many of the skin problems that wind up in visits to the doctor.
I would not advise using it for severe problems such as open wounds or skin that is so cracked it is bleeding. You should definitely see a physician in such cases. But after the application of the appropriate medication, a shielding lotion can often improve the absorption and effectiveness of the medicine. Consult with your doctor and act accordingly.
Preparing for the Holiday Season
As you paint, decorate and clean your house in preparation for entertaining guests this winter, donít ruin your hands in the process. These tips will help you avoid dry skin and keep your hands as soft as the new fallen snow.
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