Signs and Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin
Is there a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin? The answer is ‘yes’ – dry skin is a skin type in which the skin lacks oil. Dehydrated skin is when the skin lacks water. Even oily skin can still be dehydrated skin.
Surface dehydration affects approximately 95% of all people in varying degrees. Symptoms of dehydrated skin may include a tight feeling after washing; it may be itchy and have flaky patches; cracks may develop in some areas and the skin will feel rough, look shriveled and will not ‘bounce’ back if lightly pulled. Dehydrated skin is a major factor of premature aging.
What Causes Dehydration of the Skin
Water is essential to sustain all life. The tissues of the human body are made up of 70% water. Although sufficient water intake is critical in maintaining healthy skin, water alone cannot correct existing surface dehydration of the skin. A more critical factor is the communication between the layers of the skin at the cellular level.
The main water reservoir of the skin is located in the two lower layers of the skin, the dermis and hypodermis. The upper layers of the skins called horny layers, play an important role in making sure that these deeper layers of the skin stay hydrated.
If the upper layers of the skin become damaged then the process of keeping the skin properly hydrated is compromised.
Causes of dehydration can vary and can range from chronic to temporary. Temporary dehydration can be due to illness, medication, exposure to harsh elements like cold, wind and heat, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption. Chronic (ongoing) dehydration can be the result of using the wrong skincare products – products that have stripped the protective oils from the skin.
Treating Dehydrated Skin
Identifying the cause of the dehydration and establishing whether it’s chronic or temporary is the first step. Stimulating the symbiotic relationship between the upper layers of the skin and the lower layers where the water is stored is key to restoring moisture levels to the skin. Several types of protective products or moisturizers can help, depending on your skin type (remember your skin type has nothing to do with dehydrated skin) – but pay close attention to what you put on dehydrated skin – here’s why:
Oil-in-water products with a high water content tend to evaporate easily and may accelerate dehydration by drying the surface of the skin and are not recommended if dehydration is evident.
Oil-in-water emulsions containing natural moisturizing factors such as amino acids, glucose or electrolytes, are better as they help to retain moisture on the skin’s surface. They are insufficient, however, if used under harsh climatic conditions (hot or cold dry winds, for example).
Protective creams with a high lipid content are chemically similar to the skin’s own surface film and only small quantities need to be patted on (not massaged in). Inferior creams must be avoided, though, because their low quality raw materials may be comedogenic (clog pores) and cause harm, particularly on oily skin.
Note: Humectants (products designed to attract water) should be used with care. These products attract moisture indiscriminately and under certain conditions may draw water from lower skin layers. They should not be used by individuals already suffering from dehydration, and will not work in a dry climate.
Other Tips for Restoring Chronically Dehydrated Skin
- Drink enough fluids daily to restore the damage – fruit juices rejuvenate the skin faster, and coconut water is very beneficial for dehydrated skin.
- Minimize intake of caffeine drinks and reduce salt intake.
- Avoid exposure to the sun.
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