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How to care for you skin if you have dermatitis

Whether or not you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin, chances are that you've had a reaction to a skin-care product or cosmetic somewhere on your face or body. For some, identifying which product caused the problem and discontinuing its use is enough to improve the appearance of skin within a day or two. For others, even after you've stopped using the item(s), your skin can remain irritated for days or even months. There are a few simple things you can do to wage a successful battle against your skin's irritated response.

Be certain you are dealing with an allergy or sensitizing reaction to a product, and not a skin disorder. Many skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, folliculitis (an inflammation of the hair follicle), and reactions to food cause irritated, swollen, red, itchy, flaky, or rashy skin. Medscape.com is a great resource for identifying whether or not you're having an allergic or sensitizing reaction.

Find what product(s) or ingredient(s) are causing the problem and stop using them. Sometimes this is a simple enough procedure. If you started using a new concealer and within a few hours that area became red, itchy, and swollen, it is clear that the concealer is the problem. Unfortunately, it isn't always that easy. What makes this process so difficult is that many skin reactions don't happen quickly. It may be several weeks or even months or years after you've been using a product before your skin has a negative reaction to it. Further, given the number of cosmetic products women use daily, it is no wonder that pinning down exactly which item caused the problem can be a challenge. To make matters even more complicated, it may not be a single product but the combination of products that caused the problem (maybe the concealer isn't the problem, but the concealer, foundation, and moisturizer together that caused the reaction). The key here is to be patient and diligence, experimenting with the item or items you suspect and then see how your skin responds when you discontinue use.

Whether or not you've been able to identify the problem product, an over-the-counter Hydrocortisone cream can be your skin's best friend. Lanacort or Cortaid are excellent over-the-counter Hydrocortisone creams that function as anti-inflammatories. When either of these is applied to irritated, inflamed skin they can turn off the reaction that is causing the problem. Once the skin irritation shows up, apply the Hydrocortisone cream over the affected area for several days, even after everything seems back to normal. Remember that the skin can hold on to a sensitizing or allergic reaction for a long period of time. And don't be afraid about the short-term use of an over-the-counter Hydrocortisone cream. It is the long-term (more than two or three months of consistent use) of Hydrocortisone creams that can damage collagen and elastin in the skin.

While you are combating the allergic or sensitizing reaction do not use any other skin irritants of any kind over the affected area. Fragrances, scrubs, washcloths, AHAs, Retin-A, Renova, Benzoyl peroxide, skin lighteners, or other skin-care products with active ingredients can trigger irritation and only add to the problem.

Avoid saunas, steam, sweating (if possible), or rubbing the affected area, all of which can help re-trigger the reaction.

If matters aren't improving after four to six weeks, you should seek professional help. See your dermatologist for an evaluation.

If you suspect that you are having a serious allergic reaction (in the form of hives, extremely swollen skin and eyes, or red patches over the skin that feel warm or tingle), consult with your physician to discuss the option of taking an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl to stop the condition.

Author: Paula Begoun.

Dry skin care

Before you begin creating a battle plan for your dry skin, it is essential to have a fundamental understanding of what dry skin is all about. Ironically, dry skin does not seem to be about a lack of moisture. There are studies comparing the water content of dry skin to normal or oily skin and there doesn't appear to be a statistically significant difference. Adding more moisture to the skin is not necessarily a good thing if anything, too much moisture, like soaking in a bathtub, is bad for skin (Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2003, pages 275-284) because it disrupts the skin's intracellular matrix by breaking down the substances that keep skin cells functioning normally and in good shape.

What is thought to be taking place when dry skin occurs is that the intracellular matrix (the substances between skin cells that keep them intact, smooth, and healthy) has become depleted or damaged, creating water loss. In order to prevent dry skin, the primary goal is to reduce the damage to, as well as preserve and enhance, the intracellular matrix.

To reduce damage to the skin s matrix, never use drying skin-care products such as soaps, harsh cleansers, or products with irritating ingredients. These problematic products can disrupt the outer layer of the skin, destroying the intracellular matrix and eventually cause skin to flake and feel rough.

Constant exposure to arid environments, cold weather, as well as air blasting from dry heaters or air conditioners are all problematic because they destroy the skin's matrix. Adding a humidifier to your home can make a world of difference!

Believe it or not, sun damage plays a major role in why skin becomes dry any time of the year. Unprotected sun exposure creates a damaged outer layer of skin where skin cells adhere poorly to each other and the result is that the surface of new skin being formed is continually unhealthy and impaired. Sun damage also disrupts and destroys the skin s intracellular matrix. Every day of the year, if there is daylight, the skin is subject to sun damage. Keep in mind that the sun s damaging rays come through office and car windows. Sun protection is vital to the health of skin.

Improving cell turnover is another important consideration in getting rid of dry skin and improving the appearance of skin. Dry skin does not shed as it should and those built-up layers of dead skin cells can feel rough and look flaky. A well-formulated, pH-correct exfoliant such as an alpha hydroxy acid (glycolic or lactic acid) or beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) can handle this problem beautifully.

Genetically, aged skin is also a cause of dryness, because as the body's levels of estrogen drop the skin becomes thinner and the fat deposits under the skin (part of the skin's protective barrier) also become thinner or depleted altogether. Regrettably, there is little that can be done about this other than using various types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and plant-based hormone replacement (phytoestrogens) that can be consumed when eating or drinking soy-based foods.

By the way, while drinking eight glasses of water a day is great for your body, it doesn't work to improve or reduce dry skin. If that s all it took to get rid of dry skin is drink more water, then no one would have dry skin and moisturizers would stop being sold. The causes of and treatments for dry skin are far more complicated than just drinking water.

Here are some great options for winning the battle:

Wear sunscreen: Daylight, even dim, obscure daylight, causes skin damage, which means it slowly becomes less and less able to hold moisture or feel smooth.

Use state-of-the-art moisturizers: Moisturizers should be filled to the brim with antioxidants, water-binding agents, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. If you have persistent or exceptionally dry skin the, moisturizers you use should also contain various forms of lipids such as lecithin, cholesterol, glycerol, glycerides, and plant oils. Anything less leaves your skin incapable of warding off the environmental causes of dry skin.

Apply and reapply moisturizer: If you have dry skin, you really can t use too much. So whenever your skin starts feeling dry, put more on. It is also important to be diligent about reapplying moisturizer every time you wash your hands. Don t forget to keep a moisturizer in your purse, at your desk, and in every bathroom in your home.

Avoid soap or drying cleansers use only gentle, non-drying cleansers: This cannot be stressed enough. Never use a cleanser that leaves a dry feeling on your skin and that includes from the neck down. Do not over scrub skin, you can t scour away dryness. Paula's Choice All-Over Hair & Body Shampoo and Silky Start Sugar Scrub are great options for cleansing and gently exfoliating skin manually.)

Avoid soaking in the bath tub, Jacuzzi, or taking long showers: As wonderful as a leisurely bath or shower feels, too much water is bad for skin because it breaks down the skin s protective covering (the skin s intracellular matrix) destroying the substances that keep skin cells intact. Keep showers or baths as short as possible.

Get a humidifier: Low humidity is the cause of most weather-related dry skin, whether it is winter or a desert environment. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive, last a long time, and work for the whole family. If you have a large home, you may need two or three humidifiers to gain benefit.

Avoid bath oils in the bath: It does not make much sense to pour bath oils into the bath water because most of the oil goes down the drain, plus they make the bathtub slippery and dangerous. Bath oils also encourage you to soak in the tub for longer periods of time and that isn't good for skin. There is also research showing that oil can trap cleansing ingredients on skin, causing irritation and dryness. Oils are best applied when you get out of the bath or shower after you are well rinsed off and gently towel dried.

Exfoliate: Skin cell turnover (exfoliating) is a function of healthy skin, but due to sun damage, skin more often than not needs help with this process. A well-formulated AHA or BHA can help skin cells turn over in a more natural, youthful manner by removing the build-up of old skin cells and replacing them with newer, smoother ones. (Paula's Choice 8% Alpha Hydroxy Acid Solution, 1% Beta Hydroxy Acid Lotion or Gel, 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Liquid Solution or Lotion, Weightless Body Treatment With 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid, or Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% Alpha Hydroxy Acid are great options as are Lac Hydrin, Alpha Hydrox products, and Neutrogena Skin Smoothing Body Lotion available at the drugstore).

Use plant oil or mineral oil over your moisturizer: At night, over stubborn dry areas, after you've applied your moisturizer, massage a few drops of oil onto your skin. Pure olive oil is a great option because it is rich in antioxidants, and pure mineral oil creates an instant seal over skin to keep in moisture. For a lighter, less greasy option Paula s Choice Silk Mist Dry Oil Spray With Antioxidants feels wonderful on skin.

Don t forget your lips: Lips are the least capable of staying smooth and soft when the air becomes dry. They lack the lipids and cell structure the rest of the face has and, as a result, are far more vulnerable to the effects of dry air. During the day apply and reapply an emollient lipstick or gloss. At night be sure to the same. Do not go to sleep without protecting your lips. An emollient lip balm worn throughout the night can prevent dry lips all year round. Be sure it doesn't contain any irritating ingredients; peppermint and menthol can cause irritation and that won t help dry lips. Paula s Choice Lip & Body Treatment Balm is perfect for night time use or paired with lipstick, while Moisturizing Lip screen SPF 15 offers portable, broad-spectrum sun protection for lips.

Never use products that contain drying or irritating ingredients: But you already knew that one, right?

If after all this you find that your skin is still dry, consider wearing plastic gloves over your hands or feet or wrapping the driest parts of your arms, legs, or feet with plastic wrap after you apply AHA or BHA, moisturizer, and oil. You will be shocked at the difference this can have even if you only do it once or twice a week. (Obviously, the plastic wrap trick is only for the elbows, hands, feet, or legs and never the face.)

Additional sources used for this article: Dermatologic Therapy, 2004, 17 Suppl. 1:43-8; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2003, pages 771-788; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, March 2003, pages 352-358; Skin Research and Technology, November 2003, 306-311; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2003, pages 771-788.

Source: Paula Begoun

Tips on how to care for your skin with eczema

Limit your contact with things that can irritate your skin.

Some things that may irritate your skin include household cleansers, detergents, aftershave lotions, soap, gasoline, turpentine and other solvents. Try to avoid contact with things that make you break out with eczema. Because soaps and wetness can cause skin irritation, wash your hands only when necessary, especially if you have eczema on your hands. Be sure to dry your hands completely after you wash them.

Wear gloves to protect the skin on your hands.

Wear vinyl or plastic gloves for work that requires you to have your hands in water. Also, wear gloves when your hands will be exposed to anything that can irritate your skin. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to soak up sweat from your hands. Take occasional breaks and remove your gloves to prevent a build-up of sweat inside your gloves.

Wear gloves when you go outside during the winter. Cold air and low humidity can dry your skin, and dryness can make your eczema worse.

Wear clothes made of cotton or a cotton blend.

Wool and some synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin. Most people with sensitive skin feel better in clothes made of cotton or a cotton blend.
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Care for your skin in the bath or shower.
Bathe only with a mild soap, such as Dove, Basis or Oil of Olay. Use a small amount of soap when bathing. Keep the water temperature cool or warm, not hot. Soaking in the tub for a short time can be good for your skin because the skin's outer layer can absorb water and become less dry. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Then use a soft towel to pat your skin dry without rubbing. Immediately after drying, apply a moisturizer to your skin. This helps seal in the moisture.

Use the medicine your doctor has prescribed for you.
When your eczema flares up (gets worse), use the medicine prescribed by your doctor. Use it right after bathing. Medicine used to treat eczema is usually a steroid medicine that you rub on your skin. Follow your doctor's directions for using this medicine or check the label for proper use. Call your doctor if your skin does not get better after 3 weeks of using the medicine.

Use a moisturizer on your skin every day.

Moisturizers help keep your skin soft and flexible. They prevent skin cracks. A plain moisturizer is best. Avoid moisturizers with fragrances (perfume) and a lot of extra ingredients. A good, cheap moisturizer is plain petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline). Use moisturizers that are more greasy than creamy, because creams usually have more preservatives in them.

Regular use of a moisturizer can help prevent the dry skin that is common in winter.

Avoid scratching or rubbing the itchy area.
Try not to scratch the irritated area on your skin even if it itches. Scratching can break the skin. Bacteria can enter these breaks and cause infection.

Avoid getting too hot and sweaty.

Too much heat and sweat can make your skin more irritated and itchy. Try to avoid activities that make you hot and sweaty.

Learn how to manage stress in your life.

Eczema can flare up when you are under stress. Learn how to recognize and cope with stress. Stress reduction techniques can help. Changing your activities to reduce daily stress can also be helpful.

Continue skin care even after your skin has healed.

 
The area where you had the eczema may easily get irritated again, so it needs special care. Continue to follow the tips in this handout even after your skin has healed.

Source: About Health

Very dry skin requires special care. Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, is an allergic skin disorder that usually appears in babies or very young children, and which may last until the child reaches adolescence. Eczema causes the skin to itch. crack and become very dry.

 

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psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin disease that causes raised red skin with thick silvery scales.

vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on the body

hair loss

Hair loss usually develops gradually and may be patchy or diffuse

acne

Acne is a disorder of the hair follicles and sebaceous oil glands that leads to skin infections

dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin, often a rash, swelling, pain, itching, cracking. Can be caused by an irritant or allergen

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