Over the past decade, water shortages have become increasingly common, triggering limits to the availability of fresh water, especially in the Southwestern U.S. and California. In hot weather, lawns featuring swaths of green grass require constant watering to look healthy. People living in areas faced with water rationing are transitioning from water-guzzling yards to plants and features that look nice even when water access is restricted. Without unlimited access to water, it makes sense to shift from landscaping to xeriscaping.
Xeriscaping comes from the Greek word xero, meaning dry. There are two main principles in xeriscaping: choosing plants and landscape features that don’t need as much water and gardening techniques that direct water only to where it’s needed. This avoids losing precious water through either evaporation or runoff.
Using the same Greek term, xero, that refers to xeriscaping, xeroderma is the medical term for dry skin. Dry skin affects many people and becomes even more common as we age. Successfully treating dry skin, like xeriscaping, is all about getting water to the cells of your skin while minimizing water loss through evaporation.
Our body releases small amounts of water through small gaps in our skin cells throughout the day, not just when we perspire from exertion or excitement. This is called transepidermal water loss. As we age, our skin produces less sebum, an oily substance that helps slow down the evaporation of water through our skin.
Water loss through the skin can accelerate, especially in dry, windy, or cold conditions. During wintertime in cold climates, we heat our homes. As heat dries the air inside, your skin can feel dry and itchy.
Frequent bathing encourages dry skin. Taking a bath or shower promotes the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin. Unless you apply moisturizer, heating your home increases the dryness of your skin. Moisturizers help by trapping moisture on your skin before it has a chance to evaporate.
Moisturizers can add flexibility to your skin's surface cells and block water's evaporation. They are available as lotions, creams, and ointments. The more occlusive, thicker, and "greasier" a moisturizer is, the better it can trap water next to your skin, blocking transepidermal evaporation.
One ordinary moisturizer is petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline®. Some moisturizers add compounds that encourage water to stay on your skin, like lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycerin, urea, and ammonium lactate.
The newest moisturizers contain compounds called ceramides. Ceramides are found in high concentrations in healthy skin and lower concentrations in less healthy or dry skin. Three essential compounds of ceramides have been shown to improve skin texture, integrity, and dryness. One brand of moisturizer featuring ceramides is CeraVe®. What I like most about CeraVe® is that it is non-greasy, yet quite powerful in relieving dry skin symptoms like flakiness and itching.
How do you know if you have dry skin? Itching, flaking, redness, and cracks in the skin are all signs of xeroderma. Dry skin is more fragile and is considered the “gateway” to other skin issues. Treating dry skin successfully helps prevent future skin problems.
Here are 6 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin:
1.Keep your body hydrated.
Getting enough water also helps your skin look younger. By drinking extra fluids early in the day, you’ll avoid having to get up multiple times at night.
2.Minimize your caffeine intake.
I love my caffeinated coffee, but it increases water loss by stimulating urination. Caffeine hides in energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and 5-Hour Energy. One of the best ways to quit caffeine without the misery of a withdrawal headache is to switch to tea first, which has half the caffeine as coffee.
3.Humidify your house.
Use a humidifier if you live in a dry climate or when heating your home. Warm, dry air accelerates trans-epidermal evaporation.
4. Shower and bathe with warm, not hot, water.
Using hot water encourages water loss from the skin. Bathing or showering with cooler water is better for dry skin.
5.Pat skin almost dry, then apply moisturizer to seal the water.
Apply moisturizer to damp skin within 10 minutes of stepping out of your bath or shower or washing your hands. Most effective moisturizers work by trapping water in your skin cells.
6.Try a moisturizer with ceramides.
I have found that CeraVe® relieves dry skin as well as a body butter but without leaving a greasy film on your skin.
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 43-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Get clear answers to your medication questions at her website and blog, TheMedicationInsider.com.
Ó2023 Louise Achey
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