Springtime means spring cleaning, and if you’re anything like us, that means you’re washing your hands a lot! Between the intermittent cold days, dry air, and the constant hand-washing, dry skin can become something of a serious problem. Forget the fact that it doesn’t look good; it’s downright uncomfortable. Avoiding and healing dry skin can be a mystery, which is why we wanted to clear some things up.
Hands get dry when we wash them or when it’s dry because the skin itself loses water—there isn’t enough moisture in the skin to support the overall structure. We all have a protective layer on our skin that helps keep this moisture in, but constant hand-washing or just being in dry air all the time takes this top layer off, allowing water to evaporate more easily. In some cases, the methods that we’re using to get relief is actually helping our skin stay dry. To truly heal dry skin, we need to fortify this top protective layer.
Stop Using Lotion
Lotions offer many people temporary relief and, for some, a pleasant smell. But if you’re suffering from dry skin, you should put the lotion down. It isn’t helping you.
If fact, lotions can do more harm than good. Why? They have too much water. The cycle goes like this: You put water-heavy lotion on, you feel relief temporarily, and you will quickly find that you’re right back where you started, so you put water-heavy lotion on, you feel temporary relief… and it goes like that.
Water in lotion gives you temporary relief, but once the water evaporates, you’re back where you started. Bottom line: lotion doesn’t actually protect your skin or work to rebuild the protective layer.
Ideally, you should use petroleum jelly or a nice heavy cream that will help lock the water in your skin and restore the top layer protective barrier.
Don’t Use Water. Especially Hot Water.
Have you ever gotten momentary relief from dry skin by putting your hands in water? While this works for a moment, it won’t actually help your dry skin. In fact, if you dry your hands by scrubbing or wiping them, it may make your dry skin worse. Pull out your cream or petroleum jelly instead. Your skin will thank you.
Hot water can actually strip your skin of its natural oils, so you should wash your hands (and shower) with a mild soap and cooler water to avoid dry skin.
Prevention is the Best Treatment
Preventing dry skin really is the best way to treat it. The best way to prevent dry skin is to protect the barrier on your skin from disruption before it experiences any. This means starting early with your creams or Vaseline®-like petrolatum products to strengthen your skin’s protective layer before it has the chance to become dry, cracked, or itchy—moisturize your skin before you need to.
Not All Skin is Created Equally
Just because you have an incredibly moisturizing cream for your hands doesn’t mean you should use it on your face. Our faces have more moisturizing factors, making some moisturizers too heavy. Our hands don’t have any moisturizing glands, but our faces do, meaning that while a lotion might not cut it for your dry hands or elbows, it might be sufficient for your face. Some products are too heavy for your face and can clog your pores.
Petroleum Jelly, Petroleum Jelly, Petroleum Jelly
If you want to truly fortify the protective layer of your skin, turn to a product that is higher in petrolatum content than water content. A product with water as the first ingredient is NOT one you want. Petroleum jelly or heavy cream products create a strong barrier on your skin to keep the water in your skin from evaporating. What’s even better, you can use petroleum jelly on your hands, body, face, eye lids, and lips! You can even use it on your dog’s paws. Between the restorative properties, the soothing relief it can provide, and the versatility of the product, consider giving petroleum jelly a shot—it could be a game-changer.
The Bottom Line:
Dry skin is uncomfortable and unsightly. Whether it’s a constant struggle or a seasonal battle, there are things you can do to help not only relieve you of the discomfort but to actually help restore your skin and prevent dry skin in the future.
Healing dry skin really comes down to finding a product that works for you and that you will use on a consistent basis. Whether it’s petroleum jelly, or a thick, heavy cream, preventing and healing dry skin is possible.
If you continue to struggle with dry skin, it’s time to reassess your skincare routine. If you’re not sure where to start, call our office and schedule a complementary cosmetic consult!
The information contained in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute professional medical advice.