Dry skin is not a dis-ease, though it can be a symptom of disease. Hypothyroidism (slow thyroid function) is one disease that has dry skin as a symptom. Usually it is a symptom of dehydration or poor nutrition, or both. Normal skin function is a combination of the oils produced by the skin and the moisture released by the body through the skin. Besides making your hands and face look better these oils and moisture play a very important role in your overall health.
Your skin plays many roles in keeping you healthy. One role is that of a sponge, absorbing things from the air and water you encounter during the day. This is a role that is constantly being abused in our modern world. Instead of absorbing fresh air and sunshine we are absorbing air pollution and chemicals that come in contact with the skin on purpose and by accident. Every time you use a product on your skin or clothing some of that gets absorbed by the skin and into either your muscles or blood stream. Whenever you are around cigarette smoke or other air pollutants those pollutants are being absorbed into your blood stream as well.
Another role our skin plays is as a detoxification organ. When we have pollutants in our body both the blood and lymph system will send those pollutants out of the body through the skin. This is why you can sometimes smell alcohol or cigarette smoke on someoneís skin even though they havenít indulged in hours. If you are attuned to different odors you can probably identify other things in sweat. Most of us are not this attuned. When our body is trying to push a lot of substances out through the skin we can develop acne or rashes.
Even though the skin is very porous and brings things in and out of the body it also acts as a barrier to things that could be harmful to us. This is one of the purposes to the oils that the skin makes and carries on its surface. Certain bacteria and parasites that land on the skin are destroyed or deterred by the natural oils of our skin. This protection is disrupted if the skin is not producing enough oils, or if something is taking away the oils, either on purpose or by accident. These oils also hold in the moisture produced by the body to help the skin remain smooth and supple.
When our skin is stripped of oil one of the first things we do is to reach for a replacement. The hand lotion industry is a multi-million dollar industry. Almost every woman I know carries a small container of hand lotion in her purse. Almost every womanís restroom I have ever been in has a dispenser of hand cream on the counter. Unfortunately the oils in most of them are the wrong kind. Most of them are petroleum products. They will coat your hands and provide a barrier for the pollutants coming in and the moisture leaving. What they donít do is breathe in such a way that the skin can discard pollutants from the inside of your body. They seal those in. Another thing they donít do is to ward off the bacteria and parasites like the natural oils of your body. In some ways they tend to encourage the accumulation of these organisms.
There are natural creams and oils that you can use on the outside to replaced your natural oils. Coconut Oil is one of these. Some essential oils are also good for this, but you usually want to apply them through either a carrier cream or steam. Calendula and Comfrey are well known for this type of use. For a topical lotion you can you Aloe Gel by itself or with a few drops of essential oils added.
I recently had an episode of really dry skin on my hands. I was working on a construction project with my husband and handling a lot of sheetrock. It really robbed my hands of the protective oils. On top of that we were working so fast and furious I wasnít keeping up on my water intake, so I became dehydrated. Once I realized what was happening I reached for the serum in my Essential Source Bonita Inside and Out within minutes the dryness was gone and my hands were back to their normal smooth softness.
Beyond the cosmetic dry skin can be a sign of poor nutrition. Double check your intake of the essential nutrients, especially Vitamins A and E. Decrease your intake of processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Increase your intake of organic fruits and vegetables. Nothing is prettier than vibrant, healthy skin. The best way to have healthy skin is to have a healthy body in general. They best way to do that is through diet and exercise.
Smart Choices in Alternative Medicine by Samuel Benjamin, M.D. copyrighted 1999 by Meredith Corporation.
Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, Fifth Edition by Eleanor Noss Whitney, Corinne Balog Cataldo and Sharon Rady Rolfes. Copyrighted 1998 by Wadsworth Publishing Company
The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley, copyright 1995 by Judith Benn Hurley.
Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen copyright 2008 by Whitman Publication
The Ultimate Healing System by Donald Lepore, N.D. copyrighted 1985 by Don Lepore
Prescription for Nutritional Healing fourth edition by Phyllis A. Bach, CNC copyrighted 2006 by Phyllis A. Bach
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife,C.N., N.D. copyrighted 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004 by Bruce Fife.