*Photo credit: HERE

~by Sheila Garcia

It is very easy not to think about skin care when it isn’t giving you any trouble.  But with August here – and the number of sunburns increasing – your skin is at it’s most-susceptible for drying, cracking, inflammation, and itchy rashes.  Something as simple as dry skin can cause us to be uncomfortable and even cause us pain and suffering.

And dry skin doesn’t discriminate; it can affect anyone. It happens when skin loses too much water or oil. And as you age, your skin becomes thinner and drier, leaving those in their 40s and beyond more susceptible to dry skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. People living in dry climates and who suffer from other skin diseases (such as eczema and psoriasis) are prone to dry skin as well. Furthermore, exercising and swimming can both sap your skin of needed moisture.

Once dry skin sneaks up on you, its symptoms are clear: Your skin may feel itchy, rough, and flaky, and you may experience chapped or cracked lips. Your skin may even crack and bleed if the dryness is severe enough, which can allow germs into the body, and even cause infection. That’s why prevention and treatment of dry skin isn’t just about vanity – it’s important for your health!

Fortunately, a few simple steps can help combat skin dryness. First, applying a moisturizer throughout the day can help prevent your skin from losing moisture. And don’t forget the sunblock!  Protecting your skin from long-term exposure to the sun’s rays is key to avoid sunburns and dry, itchy skin.  Be certain to look for natural blockers that don’t contain free-radicals and chemicals or toxins that can be equally harmful to your skin.

If you’re suffering from dry skin, take a look at some of your other habits as well. Long, hot showers can deplete the skin’s moisture, so cutting the length, frequency and temperature of your showers can help, according to the National Institutes of Health, which also recommends the use of mild soaps instead of harsh cleansers to avoid further irritating the skin. You could also try using a humidifier to add moisture back into the air at home.

Here are a few long-term helpful hints you can try to keep your skin comfortable and healthy:

* Healthy, well-balanced diets are beneficial to every organ in your body, including the skin (which is your body’s largest organ!). If you’re looking to promote healthy skin from the inside out for long-term skin health, make sure you’re getting foods rich in these key nutrients:
-Vitamin A helps the skin function as a barrier to bacteria and viruses. Sources include carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach and kale.
-Vitamin C also protects cells from damage, helps maintain a healthy immune system and promotes wound healing, which can help you recover from dry skin. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are great sources, as are broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, potatoes and tomatoes.

-Vitamin E helps protect cells from damage. Sources include certain fortified breakfast cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds and peanut butter.

-Folate helps in the production and maintenance of cells. Sources include fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beans, peas and asparagus.
-Zinc helps the immune system fight off invaders and speeds up the healing process, so it is a vital nutrient in dry skin recovery. Oysters are the best source of zinc, but red meat, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and nuts are also good sources.

*Water. Staying hydrated can help your skin retain necessary moisture. Aim for your eight cups of water daily – even more if you’re still exhibiting signs of dehydration, which can include dry skin, or if you are exercising or have allergies.

When it comes to dry skin, prevention is your best bet. In addition to eating a well-balanced diet, protect your skin from harsh conditions and lotion up regularly to help your skin retain moisture.

Continue to build your health-and-wellness legacy from the inside-out with proper nutrition and exercise (Legacy Fitness can help with both!), and making sure you stay comfortable in your skin!

Some sources for this article:
American Academy of Dermatology
National Institutes of Health
Natural Sciences Degree Program