Living in the Atlanta area, you know that the weather gets pretty warm this time of year. With average temperatures in the 80s and humidity levels hovering at about 70%, Atlanta residents deal with a variety of skin issues that coincide with the increasing heat and moisture. Dermatologists see a rise in patients with heat rashes, acne and melasma in the warmer weather.
However, many people still suffer from very dry skin despite the weather. This might seem counterintuitive, but dry skin, also known as ashy skin, is a problem that persists throughout the year. If you are one of the many people who suffer with ashy skin, you know that it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Luckily, there are many steps you can take to relieve your dry, ashy skin and get yourself ready to wear dresses, t-shirts and bathing suits with confidence. In this article, we will share some dermatologist-approved methods for preventing and relieving your dry skin.
What is ashy skin and what causes it?
Simply put, ashy skin is very dry skin. It can occur in people of any skin color, but is more visible on darker skin tones. It can appear as a gray or white dullness to the skin and is most commonly found on the elbows, knees, heels, arms and legs.
Our skin typically goes through a natural exfoliation process. As new skin cells are produced, the old cells are shed in a continual process that reveals new, healthy cells. Sometimes, this process does not work as intended. Dead skin cells can pile up on the surface, resulting in the dull, ashy look we characterize as very dry skin. The dead skin cells build up and create a layer that prevents the skin from absorbing moisture.
Other factors that can cause dry skin include lack of humidity and exposure to artificially heated or cooled air. In the summer, exposure to the sun and chemicals like chlorine are two of the biggest culprits.
How can you avoid dry, ashy skin?
The biggest question dermatologists get from patients suffering with dry skin is how they can prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are 5 effective ways to avoid and treat dry skin. If the problem persists or gets worse, contact an Atlanta-based dermatologist who can give you a specific diagnosis and prescribe the right treatments to address your dry skin.
Stay hydrated from the inside out.
While it might seem obvious, many people do not make the connection between their dry skin and being in a state of dehydration. One of the best things you can do for your skin is drink water throughout the day. When we are properly hydrated, our skin looks healthier, our eyes are brighter and we can think more clearly. Avoid caffeine-heavy beverages like coffee which can actually deplete your body of hydration.
Avoid bathing too long and too much.
There is nothing more relaxing than a warm bath after a long day. But did you know that long, hot showers and soaks can zap your skin of its natural oils? Not only does the hot water remove natural moisturizers, but many soaps are made of harsh chemicals that can dry out your skin. Reducing your shower time and water temperature can make a drastic improvement in the appearance of your skin. Limit bath time to once a week and check to make sure you are using gentle, natural soaps.
Exfoliation is the process of new skin cells replacing the old. When this process does not happen naturally, you are left with dry, ashy skin. The good news is that you can take steps to help the process along by using physical and chemical exfoliation techniques. However, beware that too much exfoliation can irritate your skin and actually make the problem worse. Aim to exfoliate your skin 1-2 times per week using a mild soap and a washcloth or loofah. Scrub in a gentle, circular motion and follow with a nourishing moisturizer.
Moisturize the right way.
Speaking of moisturizer, not all lotions and creams are created equal. Many patients report going through tubs of lotions and creams without getting results. Choose the right moisturizer for your skin type and avoid products that are full of ingredients that you can’t pronounce. For very dry skin, creams are typically more effective than lotions.
Oils can also be used in conjunction with creams for additional moisture. Apply a body oil directly to your skin after you shower and while your skin is still damp to seal in moisture. Follow with a cream to give your skin an added moisture-boost.
Manage the air temperature as much as possible.
While we can’t always control the air temperature at work or in public places, we can take steps to avoid too much artificial air. Try to stay away from air conditioned rooms. Air conditioners can suck out the moisture in a room and cause dry, flaky skin. Get a humidifier to replace some of the moisture in the air. Always apply moisturizing creams and oils before going to a dry location, such as your office.
Dry skin is a common concern for many people all throughout the year, even in the summertime. If you are suffering from dry, ashy skin and you live in the Atlanta or College Park area, contact Dr. Sherrie Straughn at Buckhead Dermatology to discuss your skin concerns and start an effective treatment right away.