Dry Skin
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Dry skin is a problem that complicates other skin problems. Skin has natural oils that help to form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. If these oils are deficient because of a congenital defect or reduced because of absorption by clothing or by frequent washing in hot water and harsh soap, the natural protective barrier of the oils is compromised. The surface layer of the skin may be more easily penetrated by bacteria or fungus.

A common example of a dry skin problem is a "rash" involving the lower legs. This affects men typically in the Fall when central heating begins to cycle on for the colder weather. The dryer air absorbs moisture from the skin and the warmer woolen trousers absorb some of the natural oils. The dry skin itself tends to be itchy and also flakes and cracks. If the area is scratched, the protective barrier breaks down further and the conditions are perfect for a secondary skin infection. This complete cycle can be interrupted by applying a moisturizing cream in adequate dose and frequently enough at the first sign of dry skin.

Properly moisturized skin is an excellent prevention.

A common mistake is to wash frequently in hot water when there is a skin irritation. This can make the situation considerably worse especially if a harsh soap is also used. People often feel "that hot water takes away the itch". It actually takes away the oil and sets the stage for secondary infection.

Some suggestions for dealing with dry skin:

1. Wash in tepid rather than hot water.

2. Avoid excess with soap: use a mild non-scented and non-coloured soap or no soap if possible.

3. Moisturize the skin sooner rather than later. Add oilated bath salts to the bath or shower.

4. Treat quickly secondary infections: bacteria, yeast and fungal.

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