In the drier months of the winter, or if you live somewhere that’s very hot and dry in the summer, you may notice your hands, face, or any other part of your skin getting rough and irritated.
Now, this isn’t just an inconvenience that will make it harder for you to go about your daily routine, play your fav video game, or get your Grande Vegas casino bonuses. But, it can actually become a real health hazard! If your skin dries and starts to crack and bleed, then you might have to worry about infections and pain.
This is especially true if you find your hands drying out a lot. Since you interact with your environment primarily through your hands, it means cuts, dings, and scrapes on your hands are much more likely to become infected than other parts of your body.
But, there are other places you may find yourself with a large amount of dry and irritated skin. Another big one is your scalp which is the top of your head. We even have a special word for dry and flakey skin on your scalp which you all probably know: dandruff.
Dandruff can also be a serious problem. Not only can it be very itchy or painful, it can also lead to self esteem or social problems. It might be embarrassing, and you may feel self conscious about people judging you.
On the same lines as those two are chapped lips. Chapped lips are a common affliction, and many people buy common products for it. But there might be other reasons for it…
So, many people want to make sure their skin stays plump, moist, and silky. But what are some ways to keep our skin nice and healthy?
Check Your Soap
The biggest culprit I know of for causing both dry and irritated skin on the hands is the kind of soap you use! People, in theory, are washing their hands a lot. After they go to the bathroom, if they have to cook, after they cook, if they touch something dirty, before they eat, after they eat, and more.
So, if the kind of soap you use on your hands is very harsh, then it absolutely will dry and irritate your hands. This may also not be as obvious as you might think. There are many soaps that advertise themselves as ‘natural’ and ‘soothing.’
They will put pretty pictures of coconuts, or cocoa beans, or vanilla on the packaging to make you think it is made from refreshing natural and gentle materials. Usually this is just marketing.
If you look on the ingredients list, you will generally find that whatever ingredient you think they have put in the soap is either only an extract for scents, or is in a small quantity.
These soaps tend to irritate the heck out of my hands! There was a bar soap brand I bought with coconuts on it. Foolish of me, but I figured it was a bar soap and it might be gentler on my hands.
I was completely wrong. It dried my hands out so much they started to crack and bleed. It stung, and was quite painful.
This is why nowadays I use Dove soap. I find it to be very gentle and soothing on my hands. I have very sensitive skin, and I have to be really picky about my soaps.
Even when I use Dove soap, I still have to be careful! I bought a set of bars that were cucumber and green tea scented, and those irritated my hands too! So, it looks like it is going to have to be scentless for me!
Another good brand you might want to try is Ivory soap. They are well known for making a no frills soap that shouldn’t irritate you. If both of those soaps irritate you, it might be a good idea at that point to go to a dermatologist for some professional advice.
However, if these soaps do work for you, then great! Use them to your heart’s content.
Just one last thing to keep in mind is that most places won’t have gentle soap. They usually have some industrial grade pink or white mystery goop that will eviscerate your skin when used.
So, if you happen to have very sensitive skin, you might want to carry a bar or bottle of your own soap around with you just to keep your hands nice and safe.
Moisturize to Maximize!
Changing your soap in and of itself will give you a great boost to your skin health. But you are also going to want to keep your skin moisturized!
Now, there are a few ways to do this. The first and most obvious is to simply use good old fashioned skin lotion. This is perfectly adequate and the ingredients in the lotion are designed to not only moisturize, but keep your skin moisturized.
However, there are alternatives. One of them is using oil. Specifically olive or baby oil is very good for your skin. It is a natural and perfectly fine way to keep your skin moisturized.
Oil works to keep your skin moisturized because it traps water from evaporating off your skin. This means your skin won’t dry out as quickly and your skin will stay nice and fresh!
However, this won’t necessarily work as well as lotion. If you already have quite dry and irritated skin, it may be better to just use lotion to try and aid your skin in healing.
A third alternative is my personal favorite, which is Vaseline! Vaseline is made of petroleum jelly which is completely inert and non-toxic. That means it can basically be an ‘all in one’ moisturizer so you won’t have to buy separate products.
Use it on your hands, use it on your face, use it on your lips, heck you can use it to lubricate your door hinges for all I care. It’s just so versatile and it absolutely works from my personal experience.
Another big advantage of Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly is that it won’t go rancid. Natural fats can go rancid if left out, but petroleum jelly is an oil that isn’t a fat. This means it will keep fresh indefinitely and you won’t have to worry about it going bad.
Hydration is Hype
Even if you do all the right things to keep your skin nice and hydrated, there is one important thing to remember that many people forget. You cannot keep the water in your skin, if you don’t have any water in your skin.
This means you gotta drink water! Stay hydrated! Most people absolutely do not drink enough water to properly keep themselves hydrated. Especially if you have a desk job and don’t get up much.
It may not feel like you are burning away water sitting at that desk, but you are! Every breath you exhale is a bit of water lost.
So, you are going to want to keep a nice bottle of at least a liter of water with you. Or if you live in the US, about a quart. Make sure you drink from it often, and try not to eat too much salty food.
If you do eat a lot of salty or sugary foods, make sure you drink more water to compensate. Dehydration can cause soreness, headaches, and of course, dry skin!
I notice that when I do not drink enough water, my lips start to get chapped and split. But if I drink more water, they are nice and moisturized. This could be the same problem for you!
One final way to help keep dry skin away is to moderate your use, and kind, of shampoo. This means to both buy a shampoo that doesn’t irritate your skin, and not to use shampoo all the time.
Shampoo is especially designed to pull away oils and dry stuff out. I learned this the hard way when I got a drop of it in my eye once…
So, all this adds up to a bad day if you already suffer from dry skin. It will only exacerbate the situation, and make your dry skin worse!
What can we do about our conundrum? Well, the first thing would be to try a different shampoo. Test different brands until you find one that works for you! Maybe you will find one that doesn’t irritate your head, or irritates it less.
The second tip is to simply not use shampoo every time you shower! This will absolutely help keep your scalp from drying out, and can be a lifesaver when it comes to skin health.
Now, if you are worried about your hair being oily, don’t! Simply rinsing your hair with warm or hot water will wash most of that off, but it won’t wash it all off. This is what you want.
The natural oils in your hair are good for you as they keep your hair and scalp moisturized. So you might wanna keep the use of shampoo to only a couple times a week, or even once!
Your scalp will be much more comfortable and happier, and you won’t have to worry so much about whether you are drying and damaging your skin!