Dry skin is a very common skin condition among those who suffer from eczema. However, did you know that dry skin affects up to 50 per cent of elderly people? The skin undergoes many changes with age. The epidermis, or the uppermost layer of the skin, becomes thinner, and its protective lipid (oil) barrier also becomes damaged. These changes weaken the skin’s function as a protective barrier. More moisture is lost from the skin, compounding the problem of dry skin. If this is not treated, the dryness will worsen over time and the areas affected may become itchy, red and inflamed.
Experts from Dept of Dermatologist from SGH gives some practical advice on how to deal with dry skin. We have summarized some tips on what you can do to prevent dry skin :
In our hot and humid climate, it is inevitable that we are constantly exposed to air-conditioning in most indoor buidlings. Even at night, we switch on air-condition to have a better night sleep. People with dry skin should consider spending less time in dry, air-conditioned environments. If they have to spend many hours in such an environment, they might want to consider using humidifiers in conjunction with the air-conditioning.
If you switch on air-con at night, moderate to a comfortable temperature and not too cold below 26 degrees. The colder the room temperature needed, the drier the air will be.
Bath/Shower water temperature
Dry skin generally already have very little oil or moisture layer on the skin. Thus, it is very important to shower using lukewarm or cool water, rather than very hot water. Hot water strips the natural oil further. And do not take longer than five to 10 minutes each day.
Type of Cleanser
The type of soap used is also important. Harsh soaps strip away the natural moisturisers found in skin, drying and irritating the skin further.
A mild moisturising soap, soap substitute or bath oil is better, and should ideally be unscented. Perfumed and scented toiletries can irritate the skin, said Dr Lee.
Moisturize the skin regularly
Moisturisers or emollients help to improve and retain moisture within the skin. There are various types of moisturisers, and most preparations imitate the lipid component of the skin and help trap water within the skin.
Different moisturisers work in different ways to combat dry skin. Some prevent loss of moisture by building up an oil barrier, some draw in moisture, while others aim to replace the deficient lipids in the skin. Conventional lotion or cream mostly aim to replace the deficient lipids in the skin. Ointments and petroleum gelly prevents loss of moisture by building up an oil barrier. A shielding lotion is a type of lotion that works both ways – that bonds with the outermost layer of dead skin cells, enhancing the skin’s ability to retain natural oils and moisture, and assisting in the skin’s ability to protect against external irritants and allergens.
Regardless of their purpose, moisturisers should be applied to the skin quickly after a shower or bath to help trap moisture within the skin.
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