Soap is indeed harsh on dry skin. Soap has an alkaline pH while the skin has an acid pH. Soap can destroy the hydrolipid film which normally covers the skin.
The hydrolipid film is a layer of fat and water secreted by the skin to prevent it from drying out.
pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and those with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Pure water has a pH of about 7. The average pH of the skin is 5.5.
If you have diabetes then you’re predisposed to a wider range of skin complications. Such skin conditions include bacterial and fungal infections, Acanthosis nigricans, diabetic dermopathy and poor circulation in the extremities.
Bacterial infections include:
- Styes (infections of the glands of the eyelid)
- Folliculitis (infections of the hair follicles)
- Carbuncles (deep infections of the skin and the tissue underneath)
- Infections around the nails
Fungal infections include Candida albicans. A yeast-like fungus that creates a red, itchy rash, usually surrounded by small blisters and scales. These are usually found in warm, moist areas like armpits or between the toes.
Other common fungal infections include ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and vaginal infections.
Sun damaged skinExcessive exposure to the sun and harmful UV rays can cause skin damage. The UV rays penetrate below the top layer of the skin and affect the collagen which is responsible for the elasticity and strength of the skin. This leads to wrinkles, sagging and also dryness.
Swimming for a long timeSwimming may be good for your health but not as much for your skin and hair. If the chlorine in the water is added according to the set norm then it’s not too much of a problem. But over-chlorinated pools can cause harm. A long time in the pool will remove the oily layer of your skin which locks in moisture.
Aging skinOften women nearing 40 will find their skin getting drier than usual. This is because the production of collagen starts to slow and the skin starts losing its elasticity. This leads to skin with fine lines, wrinkles etc.
MedicationStrong medications can cause your skin to become itchy and dry. You can handle this dryness with an improved diet of fruits and salads. Drink lots of water and avoid junk food. You also need to moisturize your skin well in order to stop the itchiness.
Skin ConditionPeople with dry skin tend to be predisposed to conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Itchiness, soreness and patchy red spots could indicate a milder form of psoriasis. Eczema is usually indicated with flaky, dry, blistered skin.
Frequent hot showersThe epidermis (top skin layer) has keratin and a layer of oil which retains moisture. Hot showers mixed with soap strips this layer and moisture escapes your skin leaving it dry (see Harsh Soaps above). The longer the shower is, the drier your skin will get. If you already have dry skin, the shower will worsen it.
HypothyroidismHypothyroidism can cause your skin to become dry. In this condition, the thyroid glands produce less thyroid hormones which lessen the activity of the oil and sweat glands which leads to dry skin. Moisturizing the skin is essential to avoid this.
Low humidityWeather that is too cold or too hot with low humidity can cause the skin to become dry, especially when there are radiators and heaters indoors. With the moisture gone, the constant hot and cold blow irritates the skin. The solution is to moisturize the skin as often as possible. Setting a metal cooking pot filled with water on top of the heater or near the radiator well help to make the room more humid.
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