Get some re­lief from dry skin prob­lems

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY - Pre­pared by Phar­macy Self Care, Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of NZ.

Dry skin is a com­mon con­di­tion and cooler weather and low hu­mid­ity days can make this con­di­tion worse.

It’s a con­di­tion where the skin feels dry to touch, and can be rough, hard and scaly. It is of­ten itchy and re­peated scratch­ing can cause the skin to thicken. The skin is of­ten not very flex­i­ble which can then lead to cracks form­ing. In more se­vere cases the skin can be­come red and in­flamed.

Dry skin tends to be found on the hands, arms, lower legs and shins. Peo­ple of both sexes and any age can have dry skin, af­fect­ing chil­dren in early child­hood as well as be­ing seen in al­most ev­ery­one who is older than 60 years of age.

As peo­ple age there are changes to the skin struc­ture which in turn leads to wa­ter loss from the skin and hence skin dry­ness. Apart from the weather, dry skin may also be caused by ge­netic fac­tors and there is of­ten a fam­ily his­tory of dry skin.

The use of very hot show­ers and some soaps, clean­ers and sham­poos can also be the cause of dry skin. Ap­ply­ing mois­turis­ers fre­quently to the dry skin can help to re­hy­drate the skin and give re­lief.

Phar­ma­cists are able to help you on the best treat­ment op­tions for you. They can also ad­vise on ap­pro­pri­ate mild soaps and sham­poos that will be ben­e­fi­cial, to dry skin.

Dry skin is also com­mon in peo­ple who have the skin con­di­tion eczema, which is also known as der­mati­tis. There are many types of eczema, but they all cause skin in­flam­ma­tion, red­ness and itch­i­ness.

The most com­mon type of eczema is known as atopic eczema. The cause of atopic eczema is not known, though it is known that there is a ge­netic link and of­ten those peo­ple with eczema will have a fam­ily mem­ber who has eczema, hayfever or asthma as well.

Atopic eczema may have re­lapses, which are also known as flares. Th­ese may be seen as an itchy red rash that of­ten ap­pears in skin creases, such as be­hind the knees or at the el­bows. Th­ese can vary from be­ing mild and only seen in one or two places on the body, to be­ing very se­vere and painful, cov­er­ing many ar­eas of the body and last­ing for sev­eral weeks.

There may be things that trig­ger the eczema and sets it off or makes it worse. Th­ese include things such as heat, dust mites, sham­poos, soaps, per­fumes and hair dye or preser­va­tives. Also al­ler­gies to par­tic­u­lar food such as eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat or shell­fish can be the trig­ger for eczema and th­ese should be avoided.

The first course of ac­tion in man­ag­ing eczema is the reg­u­lar use of mois­turis­ers to re­duce wa­ter loss from the skin. Mois­turis­ers stop the skin dry­ing out, pre­vent­ing it from be­com­ing weak, in­flamed and itchy. Ap­ply mois­turis­ers gen­er­ously and at least twice daily.

Bathe in warm wa­ter as op­posed to hot wa­ter and ap­ply mois­turiser im­me­di­ately af­ter wash­ing and dab the skin dry rather than rub­bing the skin. For eczema that needs more treat­ment there are creams that can be used to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and itch­i­ness that are avail­able with a pre­scrip­tion from your GP.

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