Skin Care – How to Soothe Your Dry Itchy Skin
If you have dry itchy skin, you know that skin lotion and moisturizers can
help. But, did you know that your dietary choices can also help combat dry
itchy skin? And, did you know that some skin care products really are
better for your skin than other products?
Your skin does much more than just look pretty – and sometimes itch.
It’s the number one defense for keeping foreign invaders out of your
body. And, the most important part of your skin barrier is the outer
portion called the SC (stratum corneum) layer which is on the very
outside. Normally, the SC layer of healthy skin is coated in a thin layer of
natural oils. These oils both keep out harmful substances and also hold in
moisture, leaving the skin soft and supple.
When this barrier breaks down for one reason or another, moisture easily
escapes through the skin allowing your skin to become dehydrated. Your
skin obviously needs moisture but retaining moisture in your skin becomes
more and more difficult as we age.
So, the question becomes, “How do we re-hydrate our dry itchy skin?” Or,
“How do we prevent moisture loss?”
The common remedy is to use some type of lotion or skin moisturizer. The
more enlightened might even use some type of natural skin care products.
This is not a bad thing but it’s more like a band aid than a cure. Think
about it – if you have to keep using skincare products over and over and
over, is it really fixing the problem?
I have some ideas for you that just might fix your problems with dry
itchy skin. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Finally, we can discuss some truly revolutionary skincare products that
have recently been developed thanks to modern research into how our skin
tissue is hydrated.
Stopping Moisture Loss
Let’s talk first about how to stop moisture loss through your skin. You
will frequently read in skincare articles that you should use a mild soap,
limit your exposure to the sun, drink lots of water, pat your skin dry
(don’t rub), etc. All of these are great advice. But, there's something
more that you should be doing.
To explain the idea, we need to understand that the SC (stratum corneum)
layer of your skin is made up of three predominant components –
cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides. If any of these components
are deficient in our bodies, dry skin is the result.
Let’s talk about each of these three components. You hear a lot about
cholesterol and how it’s such a terrible thing. The truth is that you need
cholesterol to survive. You just don’t want too much. So, this is the least
of our worries as we all have plenty of cholesterol. If you are ever short of
cholesterol, your body will happily manufacture all that you need.
Next - free fatty acids. Don’t let the terminology intimidate you. We are
basically talking about the Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 oils. These
are all “essential” fats as they are necessary for good health and your body
can not manufacture them. They must come from your diet. The good
news is that you get plenty of Omega-6 and Omega-9 in your diet. You
actually get too much Omega-6.
Here is the first part of the problem. We are all deficient in Omega-3 oils if
we are not supplementing our diets. I discuss this extensively in my article
on inflammation caused by a deficiency of Omega-3’s.
How this affects our dry skin problem is that without the proper nutritional
components, your body can not keep the SC layer of your epidermis in
good repair and you can not retain the natural moisture in your skin. The
result is dry itchy skin.
You can apply skin care products day and night but still suffer with dry skin
until you address this problem from the inside out. Getting proper
nutrition through Omega-3 supplementation is critical if you want to have
beautiful healthy skin.
You can get your Omega-3’s from several sources including flaxseed oil or
fish oil. I strongly recommend fish oil as it has a substance called EPA that
works miracles on systemic inflammation as I discuss in my other article.
As a first step toward healthy skin, try taking 1 gram (1,000 mg) in the
morning and another gram at night. Also, I strongly suggest that you take
a fish oil supplement that is enteric coated so that you do not burp a fishy
aftertaste. Trust me – that’s no fun.
The last of the three components of the SC layer of the epidermis is
ceramide. This is where modern science is really helping us. There are
actually 9 different types of ceramides but we don’t need to get that far
into the details. The point is that a certain combination of these various
ceramides in certain ratios is very beneficial for treating skin problems.
If you have eczema or psoriasis, you should see a dermatologist as each
condition requires treatment with different ceramides. However, for the
rest of us that just have run of the mill dry itchy skin, there are new lotions
and moisturizers that actually contain helpful ceramides.
Some are available by prescription only but a couple are available over
the counter. Also, some brands get very pricey. For that reason, I
recommend CeraVe products as they are very reasonably priced.
OK, maybe I should not have called moisturizers and skin creams “band
aids” because, after you have treated the internal problem, there is a place
for good quality skin care products.
However, most commercial creams and lotions are mostly water. Their
moisture is quickly absorbed into dry skin and, as the water enters the
skin, it expands the tissues like filling a sponge with water. The result is
that the wrinkles fade away and the skin feels smoother. But this is only
temporary and as soon as the water either evaporates or is carried away
by the blood stream, the dry skin returns - very quickly.
No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to permanently cure dry
itchy skin with most commercial body lotions or skin care products.
In addition to the water, most lotions have an oil of some type. This oil is
almost always a highly refined vegetable oil devoid of all natural protective
antioxidants. Oxidized vegetable oils in our food supply and in body care
products can generate a great deal of free radicals which are very bad for
your body. The bottom line is that oxidized oils are bad for your skin and
most skin care products are actually harmful over the long term.
That is why my next recommendation is that
you use coconut oil as a moisturizer. It is
unsurpassed in it’s ability to externally
moisturize your skin. In addition, coconut oil
will absorb easily and keep your skin soft without
Some dry skin products have coconut oil or coco
butter (same thing) as one of their ingredients.
However, I recommend using pure coconut oil.
It’s available either with the natural coconut scent or unscented.
This natural oil has been used for many centuries by the people of the
South Pacific and in Asia. The results for your skin will be amazing.
The only drawback is that it takes a few minutes to absorb. I suggest that
after you wash in the morning, use the CeraVe products that I mentioned
earlier as they will absorb fast and allow you to get out the door quickly in
the morning. Then in the evening when you have a little more time, cleanse
your skin and apply some coconut oil. When you first try it, you will
discover that it gives a wonderfully smooth feel to your skin.
Another way to use coconut oil is to mix in your favorite essential oils for a
very pleasant aroma. Coconut oil has a very low melting point. In the
summer it will be liquid and in the winter it will likely harden. Just warm it
slightly if necessary to mix the oils and add a couple of drops of your
Really, any essential oil of your choice is OK but don’t add too much. Many
essential oils are rather “hot” and mixing it too strongly could cause a rash
on sensitive skin. Experiment with a few drops and add more later if
desired. Lavender oil has a calming effect and is a good choice for the
Another final benefit of coconut oil is that it has both anti-microbial
properties and anti-fungal properties. Invisible germs and microbes are
everywhere and coconut oil does it’s part to keep these in check. If your
dry itchy skin condition is serious enough that your skin is cracked,
coconut oil will help keep infectious germs from setting up shop in the
wounds. It’s not nearly as powerful as an antibiotic cream but it is still
My last suggestion is to put a chlorine filter on your shower. Chemicals
can play havoc on your skin. If you are going to the trouble to use a mild
fragrance free soap, why not wash in good water? Filters are available at
any hardware store and they just take a few minutes to install. Change
the cartridge in the filter as recommended – about every 6 months.
By the way, note that “unscented” soap is not the same as “fragrance
free”. Many unscented soaps still have fragrances or ingredients that you
might want to avoid.
My last suggestion gets back to the idea of treating the problem from the
inside out. There are certain vitamins and minerals that can help dry skin.
For example, vitamin C is necessary for our bodies to make collagen and
collagen acts as a sponge for moisture. Copper and zinc are also
Together, Vitamin C, zinc, and copper keep collagen denser which in turn
allows for plump, hydrated skin. Any good multivitamin with trace minerals
will have sufficient zinc and copper. However, supplementing with
additional Vitamin C is a good idea as most multivitamins do not have
nearly as much as you need. I suggest at least 500mg per day and you
could easily double that amount.
If dry itchy skin has been plaguing you, there are things you can do to
make it go away.
First, you have to treat the problem from the inside out. Get your
proper nutrition by supplementing with Omega-3 in the form of enteric
coated fish oil and also supplement with a daily multivitamin and
Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Once you have the internal dietary issues sorted out, use the proper types
of skin care products. It really does make a difference.
Your moisturizer, lotion and creams should follow the latest in scientific
research and include ceramides. They are essential for repairing skin
damage. The best over-the-counter value that I’ve found is the brand
The other “must have” skin care product is 100% natural coconut oil.
If you have never tried it, you will be amazed. It will make your skin feel
smooth like nothing else. I get mine from Tropical Traditions or you can
find it at your local health food store.
You don’t have to live with chronic dry itchy skin. Beautiful skin and
healthy skin can be yours. Try these few simple ideas today.
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