Healing Dry Skin: Eight Easy Home Remedies
Two little old ladies were sitting on a park bench outside the local town hall where a flower show was in progress. One leaned over and said, “Life is so dang boring. We never have any fun anymore! For five dollars I would take my clothes off and streak through that stupid flower show.”
“You are on!” said the other old lady, holding up a $5.00 bill.
The first little old lady slowly fumbled her way out of her clothes and, completely naked, streaked (as fast as an old lady can) through the front door of the flower show.
Waiting outside, her friend soon heard a huge commotion inside the hall, followed by loud applause and shrill whistling. The smiling old lady came through the exit door surrounded by a cheering crowd.
“What happened?” asked her waiting friend.
“I won 1st prize as Best Dried Arrangement!”
Many of us know that we do not have to be pushing eighty years old to suffer from dry skin, especially in the cold, winter months. When furnaces are blasting, woodstoves are roaring and fireplaces are crackling, our skin can pay the price. Space heaters and electric blankets can also dry out the skin, and so can the excessive use of tanning beds and saunas.
Dry, flaky skin is not a disease. It is a condition – brought on by a lack of moisture or water in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin.) The epidermis is composed of tissue primarily made up of sulfur-containing fibrous proteins called keratin, the same chemical basis as hair and nails. Keratin needs water to keep it supple and pliant. When moisture evaporates more quickly, the result is dry, itchy skin.
Think of what happens when you take a fresh, soft slice of bread and put it in the toaster for two minutes. The heat removes the moisture and the bread becomes hard, dry and crumbly.
A common misconception is that the dryness is a result of a lack of oil in the skin. This is not true. It is water that the skin thirsts for and the answer is to keep that water in.
Here are eight easy home remedies for dry skin:
1. Turn down the thermostat. Try keeping the air somewhat cooler by turning the thermostat down a notch or two. Think of the dry, parched heat-baked desert floor as opposed to the smooth, malleable soil of the forest. Just like the ground we walk on, skin will react better to cooler conditions.
2. Use a humidifier. Place humidifiers throughout the house, especially in bedrooms. If you do not have a humidifier, keep a kettle of water on the woodstove.
3. Get more plants. A healthy dose of plants in each room will help to keep moisture in the air, but be sure to water them frequently.
4. Take a bath. Instead of showering every day, revitalize your skin by spending a few minutes soaking in lukewarm water every other day or at least two times a week. Do not use hot water and do not oversoak. A simple fifteen minute bath will do the trick.
5. Use the right soap. Not all soaps have the same ingredients and some are much harsher than others. Some of them contain lye, which can wreak havoc on dry or sensitive skin. Using a brand that contains lanolin, cocoa butter or cold cream will help reduce dryness.
6. Lubricate your skin. Use a moisturizing lotion to trap the water in. First, pat dry with a clean, soft towel. Do not rub because this only tends to irritate dry skin. Then apply a moisturizer. Although most lotions will work just fine for helping to keep the water in, the most effective of all moisturizers are a class called humectants, which include alpha hydroxy acids. They help the skin to maintain moisture.
7. Get your omegas. Incorporating the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 into the cell membranes is another way to combat dry skin. These can be found in nuts and seeds as well as the oils of soybean, sunflower and evening primrose.
8. Enjoy the sunshine. Get out there and frolic in the snow but be sure to cover your skin with the proper clothing and use lip balm and suntan lotion on exposed areas. Sunshine helps the body to convert Vitamin D, and exercise helps to circulate the blood throughout the body. Good circulation is crucial to good health.
While few of us are in line to win the “best dried arrangement” prize, many of us do know the discomfort of battling dry, itchy skin during the cold, winter months.
Just remember that the most effective treatment is to keep the water in. By applying the above-mentioned remedies to our daily and weekly schedules, you will not only save your skin from premature wrinkling, you will also breathe cleaner air and you will save money as well in lower heating costs and less expensive soaps, lotions and ointments.