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Avoid Chapped Skin- A Summary

One of the main functions of the skin is to provide a protective layer against external pathogens. When it is healthy, it is a soft, supple, semi-impermeable barrier that retains water and lipids. Its inherent flexibility and regenerative properties means that it is one of the body’s most dynamic organs. More tips here http://www.cnyhealth.com/features/avoid-chapped-skin

Unfortunately, the stresses of normal, everyday modern life subjects our skin to a mixture of chemicals and potential allergens that can seriously affect its ability to function efficiently. For most people this is not a major problem – until winter descends.

The cold of winter, with its dry winds, can be a major deteriorating factor to skin that is already prone to moisture loss. Combine the inhospitable outside climate with the low humidity warmth of centrally heated buildings and suddenly the outlook for skin can be rather downcast.

This is when the skin can become chapped, sore, cracked and split. The back of the hand, along the knuckles, is particularly prone to winter induced chapped skin. This is because the hands are almost invariably exposed to the harsh external environment. They are also the part of the body that is regularly subjected to friction and exposure to a mixture of chemicals and cleansing agents.

The palm of the hand has a relatively thick epidermis, being about 30 cells in depth, and has evolved to include an extra protective layer called the lucidum. However, the skin of the hand does not have a uniform structure. Thinner more delicate skin covers the back of the hand. Unfortunately, both the front and the back of a person’s hands are usually subjected to the same rigours and this is when problems can develop.

Outside workers such as those who work in the forestry, construction and postal industries often suffer from chapped hands as soon as the first bite of the dry, cold winter winds strikes. So, what is the best approach to adopt when faced with seasonal chapped hands? Skin protection and moisturising is the foundation of any successful treatment. However care should be taken.

Many people display an adverse reaction to rubber gloves. In addition, prolonged wearing of gloves can cause skin friction and interfere with normal perspiration. Both can aggravate already sensitised chapped skin. If you choose to wear gloves, a soft cotton material is generally regarded as best, although these should be changed and washed regularly.

Using a barrier cream is another popular method of skin protection, but these can have inherent problems. Barrier creams can leave the hands feeling greasy and slippery. Whilst some thick creams can block the pores of the skin and prevent normal perspiration. The best barrier creams are those that you apply and soon dry to become almost undetectable.

Next on the agenda is to ensure you properly moisturise the skin. This is not without problems, though. Cosmetic moisturisers that contain a fragrance can induce anasdversereation with some people, so they are best avoided. Other moisturisers need to be constantly reapplied after each hand wash and this is not always practicable. Choose a barrier cream that is non-toxic, non-greasy and is both alcohol and fragrance free. If possible, the cream should also be wash resistant.

In addition to these basics, make the following simple adjustments to your lifestyle:

Try to limit the number of times you wash your hands during the day as this can strip off the essential epidermis lipids. When you do wash, always use a mild, fragrant free soap. A hot bath that can exacerbate damaged skin, try taking a cool shower instead. When drying your hands, use a soft towel and dab yourself dry rather than rubbing. Finally, resist any temptation to scratch any area of dry skin – no matter how itchy it feels. Scratching will only give temporary relief to the itch, but it will likely further damage the epidermis.