The aims of a good treatment for dry skin treatment should be to remove or limit pruritus, irritation and of course, skin dryness as well as to improve skin protection by restoring skin barrier and to enhance the appearance of the skin. Skin care products that primarily address dry skin are usually made up of multiple ingredients that act to reverse dry skin and achieve the aforementioned aims. Products for dry skin treatment include moisturizers or emollients, the former bearing humectants to moisten the epidermis. Emollients which are lipid, oily formulas help to partially close the skin by occupying the spaces in between corneocytes. Emollients soften and smooth rough skin, enhancing its ability to maintain moisture and lessening irritation and inflammation. Emollients also can set up a lipid barrier that shields the skin from damage to irritants.
The FDA has assessed and approved certain types of protectants as effective and safe for protecting cracked or chapped skin from the dehumidifying effects of cold and windy weather. Protectants usually contain FDA-approved Ingredients such as white petrolatum, petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, hard fat, glycerin, dimethicone, cod liver oil, cocoa butter and allantoin.
Protectants as well as other skin care products not recognized as protectants by the FDA have overlapping and slightly different advantages for dry skin. Paraffin, mineral oil and petrolatum are obstructive ingredients that place an oily shield on the surface of the skin to help prevent loss of moisture. Urea, glycolic acid, lactic acid and glycerin are humectants or moisturizers that get water from the lower layer dermis and keep it in the stratum corneum. Lactic acid, urea, glycerol and ceramides are agents for rehydration enabling skin to keep water in and lessen water loss. Lipids (oil, waxes, fats) help restore skin barrier by creating a film over the skin surface.
A lot of dry skin products are widely available in the market. Many of these are household names including Vaseline Original, a product that is pure petrolatum. Others include glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil and a 41% petrolatum product called Aquaphor. Velvachol is made up of mineral oil, petrolatum and water while Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is made up of petrolatum and water among others.
An active ingredient called urea when used in 2% to 40% concentrations betters hydration of the epidermis. About 10% urea, petrolatum, mineral oil and water are found in the skin product Aqua Care.
Some patients will find that petrolatum can be a very good remedy for dry hands especially when they use it at bedtime and wear soft cloth gloves all night. Petrolatum can stay in the skin for a whole day even when the person does some hand washing. Not all dry skin patients though will use this product due to its unpleasant feel. Ointments (petrolatum) should not be used on wounded skin as it can irritate the affected skin. These drawbacks of ointments make non-greasy lotions and creams more attractive to use in the daytime. The only problem with these products is that they easily are removed when the hands are washed. Lotions in particular are more easily removed than creams because they are more watery.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine which sees dry skin as a sign of an imbalance inside the body. What acupuncture does is to restore energy balance, either by aiding the body to efficiently convey fluids to the tissues that will nourish the organs and systems or control moisture in the body. From a TCM perspective, dry skin can be the result of certain pathologies. This can be, for example, a problem associated to Lung energy weakness or Lung dryness. Facial dry skin can be a symptom of a more profound energetic system pathology of the Kidney essence. When dry skin along a specific pathway or channel is seen, this points to an imbalance in that meridian. A dry skin with a burning sensation or a reddish color can mean existence of pathogenic heat in the meridians. A deficient blood energy that is supposed to maintain moisture and cooling to the tissues can also cause dry skin. It is your acupuncturist who will ascertain what it is that is causing your dry skin and provide corresponding treatment for it as well.
Nawei’s Acupuncture Clinic
559 E. Pikes Peak Ave. Suite 212
Colorado Springs, CO 80903