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Tips for Healing Dry Skin
Tips for Healing Dry Skin
Dry, flaky skin is one of the most common complaints dermatologists hear. And it presents problems deeper than it would seem on the surface: The skin is the body’s main defense against infection, and when this defense is breached via cracked, broken skin, bacteria have a far easier time penetrating.
If your skin is chronically dry and itchy, you should see your healthcare provider to make sure nothing more serious is at play. Psoriasis, which mimics many of the symptoms of dry skin, is actually an autoimmune disease that manifests on the skin. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, it affects as many as 7.5 million Americans.
Cheryl Myers, an integrative health nurse, author and expert on natural medicine, is a nationally recognized speaker who’s had her research featured in magazines and periodicals including Aesthetic Surgery Journal and Nutrition in Complementary Care. She explains that silica , an element found throughout the body that’s especially concentrated in the skin, hair and nails, is a crucial trace mineral that plays a big role in skin health by helping to create and maintain collagen and proteoglycans.
“Collagen gives skin strength, texture and resilience,” Myers says. “Proteoglycans bind water and create links with collagen, keeping skin hydrated, supple and younger-looking. Look for a silica supplement that contains an organic silica extract obtained from the above-ground parts of the spring horsetail (Equisetum arvense) plant.”
Bananas are a dietary source rich in silica, but only about 2 percent is absorbed during digestion, Myers says. “Although daily value recommendations have not yet been established for silica, it’s generally suggested that 10 to 25 mg daily is necessary to prevent deficiency, while intakes of 30 to 40 mg daily or more have been associated with more significant benefits.”
Myers recommends sea buckthorn for anyone with dry skin. “The fatty acids in the seed and pulp are some of the best for skin health, and they help to promote younger-looking skin,” she points out. Sea buckthorn provides omega fatty acids, including the rare and valuable omega-7. Myers explains that many of sea buckthorn’s benefits stem from its ability to support healthy levels of moisture and elasticity in the skin due to its high content of these omega-7 fatty acids.
Myers explains that the buckthorn shrub is covered with thorns that make hand-harvesting extremely difficult and time-consuming. “Some companies try to circumvent the process by simply cutting off the branches, freezing them, and knocking off the berries,” she warns. “Unfortunately, this not only damages the plant, it damages and alters the very compounds you want from the berries. It’s about as sustainable as chopping off the branches of an apple tree to harvest apples. Be sure to look for a sea buckthorn supplement from a company that acts responsibly.”
Liquid vitamin E
Self-acclaimed beauty junkie Erika Katz, author of Bonding Over Beauty, A Mother-Daughter Guide to Self-Esteem, Confidence and Trust (Greenleaf Book Group, 2011) and the popular beauty blog BondingOverBeauty.com, swears by topical applications of vitamin E to heal dry skin.
For dry skin on the face and hands Katz recommends liquid vitamin E (100 IU) up to three times a day. At nighttime she prefers something heavier: about 20,000 IU vitamin E in a blend that also includes wheat germ oil. “For the body, both coconut oil and almond oil are wonderful emollients and are also rich in vitamin E,” Katz says. “Use these oils after your daily shower or bath while skin is still slightly damp.”
Note that while a report by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that topical applications of vitamin E, especially in the form of alpha tocopherol creams, helps to decrease surface roughness of the skin, a separate a study at the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, published in Dermatologic Surgery in April 1999 found that an allergic reaction to topical applications of vitamin E is not at all uncommon—so before treating your face or body, be sure to test the oil on a small area to make certain that it doesn’t cause irritation.
By: Debra Bokur
Debra, a former Contributing Editor at Fit Yoga Magazine, Travel & Wellness Editor at Healing Lifestyles & Spas, and Managing Editor at Delicious Living Magazine, has been covering health, travel and wellness for over 25 years. She currently writes for Global Traveler Magazine and serves as the poetry editor at the national literary journal Many Mountains Moving. Previously, she trained horses for the sports of dressage and combined training, and worked for a variety of equestrian magazines including Spur, Horse & Rider, HorsePlay, and Discover Horses.
October 30th, 2012