Everyone knows that acne prone skin produces too much oil. But in their war on tallow and pimples, some people go too far. Despite excessive sebum production, many acne sufferers also suffer from dry skin, which can be caused by too frequent washing or as a side effect of some medications. Whatever the cause, it is important that you handle it because the lack of moisture makes your skin more sensitive and prone to breakouts.
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In this post I will show you how to deal with dry skin. We look at how moisture can escape through the skin barrier and what that means for the health of your skin. Moisturizing is the obvious solution, which I will also give you the basics on moisturizers and how to choose something that is appropriate for your skin.
Dry skin bases
The outermost layer of the skin acts as a barrier between you and the outside world. Medically, this is called a skin barrier function. To get an idea of how it works, just imagine a wall. The cells are like bricks and the natural oils in your skin are the mortar that binds them together. The cells, which behave like bricks, are filled with water and fats to the point where they are swollen. This swelling is good because it holds the cells firmly together, making it difficult for them to penetrate the barrier.
The fats on the skin are also a natural water barrier. They prevent too much moisture from leaking out of your skin. Without this skin barrier layer, your vital internal organs would dry up and you would die quickly. So it’s pretty important.
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If you wash your face with soap or some other harsh detergent, something bad happens. The detergent removes many of the natural oils from the skin. It removes the mortar that holds the bricks together. This can also evaporate water from the skin.
If this happens repeatedly, the cells in the skin barrier lose water and shrink. This makes the barrier less effective so that more moisture can escape from the skin. In the end, your skin will become dry and when the situation gets worse, the skin will start to flake off. This happens because the individual dead skin cells need enough moisture to function properly.
Soaps and detergents are only one cause of dry skin. But regardless of the cause, the basic mechanism remains the same.
Now that you understand the basics, let me give you a reason why you should do something about it.
Dry skin can cause acne
For some people, dry skin causes itching and other nuisance, while other people barely notice it.
Any violation of the skin barrier function causes an immediate immune response. The skin barrier function is vital and your body tries to repair it immediately. Of course, immune response means more acne-causing inflammation in the skin.
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The weakened skin barrier also allows the penetration of bacteria and chemicals into the skin. The skin becomes more susceptible to infections caused by acne-causing bacteria. And pollution and chemicals in skincare products can penetrate the skin. Both means more inflammation in the skin.
So, if you are looking for a clear skin, it is in your interest to deal with dry skin and a healthy skin barrier. But before we get to that, let’s talk about some common causes.
Here is a list of things that often cause dry skin.
Benzoyl peroxide, retinoids and other topical acne medications can cause dry skin.
Detergents that are too alkaline are looking for pH-balanced products.
Winter and low humidity. Very dry environment can absorb moisture from the skin.
Long hot showers and baths.
Chemical irritants in personal care and household products. An example is detergent residue.
Some medications, like Accutane.
What can you do about it?
Sometimes this is possible, it is easy to stop using soap or switch to a milder detergent. But sometimes it is not. What do you do with the dry climate in winter, or are there simply no suitable alternatives to the product that irritates your skin?