Dry Skin, Eczema & Dermatitis

Dry Skin, Eczema & Dermatitis

Dry skin, eczema and dermatitis are all common skin issues, however each condition has its own symptoms and may be triggered by a different cause.

Dry skin occurs when the outer layers of skin are depleted of moisture and is more prone to roughness, flakiness and scaling, and can easily become itchy, irritated or cracked. Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin problem accompanied by redness and itchiness that can have numerous different causes.

Eczema is an allergic form of dermatitis causing the skin to become inflamed or irritated. 

Symptoms

  • Skin lacks moisture, suppleness and elasticity
  • Skin is prone to roughness, itchiness, flaking and scaling, and may also crack or become irritated or inflamed
  • Dry skin is common on the face (where it may highlight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles), the backs of the hands, the forearms, the feet and the lower legs
  • Symptoms may be worse in cold or windy weather
  • Reddened, inflamed, itchy skin, sometimes of a thicker texture than other skin
  • Crusted or weepy lesions may occur, suggesting that the skin has become infected
  • Patches may be coin-shaped
  • Contact dermatitis tends to occur only on sections of skin that have been touched by the allergen or irritant
  • Babies and young children often experience dermatitis on their faces or at the bends of their elbows, knees and ankles
  • On the scalp, dermatitis is often associated with greasiness of the skin and hair, and is referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap is a form of seborrheic dermatitis that is common in young babies
  • Symptoms may be worse in hot weather

Causes

  • Skin becomes increasingly susceptible to dryness and moisture loss as we get older
  • Inadequate consumption of water, essential fatty acids (e.g. omega-3, -6 and -9) or fat-soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamins A, D and E)
  • Environmental factors, including humidity levels, wind exposure and the use of heating systems in the home
  • Sun and UV exposure may also be a contributing factor
  • Skin care products and soaps may cause or aggravate the problem for some people
  • Hands may become extremely dry if they are frequently exposed to water, detergents or harsh chemicals
  • Stress, trauma to the skin (e.g. by itching, rubbing or irritation), food allergies and intolerances can trigger dermatitis or eczema
  • Eczema is an allergic condition, and many sufferers also experience Asthma and/or hay fever at some point in their lives. The combination of these conditions is called atopy and tends to run in families.
  • People with atopic dermatitis have increased requirements for essential fatty acids (omega 3 & omega 6), zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into physical contact with an irritant or allergen. This may include dishwashing and laundry detergents, make-up, skin care products, chlorine in swimming pools, and nickel and other metals used in the manufacture of jewellery.

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Turmeric has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine and may assist in the treatment of skin disorders
  • Atopic dermatitis increases the body's production of the inflammatory compound histamine. Vitamin C helps reduces histamine levels.
  • Zinc is an important co-factor in the metabolism of essential fatty acids, so if zinc levels are inadequate, increasing essential fatty acid consumption may not work as effectively as possible. It also plays an additional role in wound healing
  • If Stress triggers or exacerbates your skin problem, take a high potency multivitamin that provides magnesium and other nutrients that help combat nervous tension and Anxiety

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Drink at least two litres of water every day, and avoid diuretic beverages such as tea, coffee and alcohol
  • Protect your skin from sun damage by using sunscreen and covering up whenever possible
  • See your doctor for an annual skin check up, and be sure to point out any patches of dryness or scaling
  • Choose unrefined polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, from fish, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and avocados. In particular, try to eat several serves of oily fish (such as salmon, tuna or sardines) every week to maintain high levels of omega-3 fats
  • Avoid bathing or showering in very hot water, which can dry the skin out. Choose gentle soaps and skin care products that have been specially formulated to maintain the skin's fragile pH balance. Skin should be moisturised regularly, as soon as possible after showering
  • Work with your doctor or healthcare professional to identify any allergens that may be contributing to your problem
  • Protect your skin from sun damage by using sunscreen and covering up whenever possible
  • Avoid wearing synthetic or restrictive clothing, and wear only hypo-allergenic jewellery
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol to excess
  • Chickweed has traditionally been used to relieve itchy skin conditions, and an ointment or gel containing the herb may provide relief for eczema, dermatitis or Psoriasis. Look for a product combining chickweed with either zinc oxide or aloe vera and tea tree oil

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

Greenridge is an Integria Healthcare brand, a manufacturer and distributor of quality herbal formulations and supplements.
Find out more about Integria Healthcare and their range of brands at integria.com.