Dryness dryness, every where


Dear Dr Ahsan,
I am a 27 year old working woman and I seriously need a solution to my skin dryness. My head skin becomes so flaky during this season and I have patches of dryness on my face especially after I wash my face with soap. Also the skin of my feet and hands becomes so dry that I can draw white lines with my nails on them.

Dear Rukhsaar,
A problem of a similar nature was addressed in the last issue of Shifa News. However, some of the present concerns are being clarified. Winter generally aggravates a dry skin, therefore, more attention needs to be given to this aspect of our health.
All kinds of soaps (being good cleansers) make the skin dry by washing away the oil that our skin secretes to keep itself protected and hydrated. The so-called moisturizing soaps partly offset this tendency but not completely, as the artificial moisturizers that they contain are not substitute for our natural skin sebum. So people with a dry skin should avoid excessive use of soaps. Keep the use of soaps to the bare minimum. For the sake of information, let me explain that there is not much difference between soap and face wash or a cleanser as far as their potential for dryness is concerned. They are all cleansers and have to wash away whatever is on the skin, and that includes your own moisture/sebum too.

A good alternate to soap would be something called an “Emulsifying ointment BP”.  It comes as a gel like preparation that is dispensed by pharmacists according to the British Pharmacopeia formula and hence the abbreviation BP.
It can be used instead of soap, exactly as you would use soap, but only with warm water. It does not produce much lather but does its job and leaves the skin hydrated. If you do not like the feel of this ointment, then you should start using plenty of moisturizers, especially after washing your hands.

Flaky scalp can be dealt with by using any anti dandruff shampoo. If these simple maneuvers do not help and your problem remains then you need a dermatology consultation.

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