Articles written by me on Self-care and Palliative Medicine
On Self-Care & Palliative Medicine

A Few Dry Comments About Skin

It’s the Season of Dry Skin. Even people with normally moist, healthy skin can find themselves itching,scratching, and “shedding” their skin during the winter months. The cold, often dry outside air combined with the low humidity created by heated living and working environments can be harsh exposures to our skin. As our skin dries out, it becomes more easily irritated by soaps and clothing. . . skin “allergies”,certainly itchy skin are much more prevalent when the “heat is on.”

So, how do most people treat their dry skin? Usually with moisturizing creams and lotions. . .which can cost anywhere from 30 cents/ounce up to $30/ounce.

Although these moisturizing agents do help (especially if applied to moist skin. . . right after a bath or shower), the most important treatment of dry skin is Water Drinking. Adequate water consumption is important for every cell and organ system in our bodies. For well-hydrated skin, the minimum daily consumption of water should be one half ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 170 lb. man or woman should consume at least 2 and 1/2 QUARTS of water/day (Source: Robert Ivker, M.D., recent President of the American Holistic Medical Association) Remember, this is a minimum daily consumption. For people who are more active and living in cold, dry winter months, even more water consumption is necessary for adequate hydration of the body.

Consumer Reports Magazine rated a number of Moisturizers in the January 2000 issue. They rated face, body, and hand moisturizers separately. The top rated Facial product was L’Oreal Plenitude Active Daily Moisture SPF 15 at $1.59/ounce. The top rated Body product was Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Healing with Skin Protection Complex at $.29/ounce. Lotions don’t have to be expensive to be effective.

So, to combat skin dryness during the cold winter months, the most important advice I can give to you is: Drink Enough Water. Regular exercise and smoking cessation also promote healthier skin. And, if you use moisturizing products, apply them while the skin is moist.

Stephen L. Hines, M.D.
February 2000

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