Cutemol

Before and After applying Cutemol Cream

 

 

Cutemol Q & A

February 14, 2021

Zoe Diana Draelos, MD

Dermatology Consulting Services. PLLC

 

Why do I have dry skin and what can I do about it?

Dry skin is very common, especially in the winter.  You are not alone, however, as most people experience dry skin at some time in their life.  Understanding dry skin is the key to prevention.

 

Dry skin occurs when the environment is dry with low humidity, which is more common in the winter and arid areas of the United States.  This means there is very little water in the air.  If the air is dry, water will leave your skin through evaporation and disappear into the air.  This is why humans have to continually drink water.  We constantly loose water to the air.  If there is more humidity in the air, less water will be lost from your body.  If there is less humidity in the air, more water will be lost from your body.  This occurs constantly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

 

How do you prevent this water loss that is causing dry skin?

There are several easy approaches.  One way is to increase the humidity in your environment at home.  Purchasing an inexpensive cold air humidifier and placing it in your bedroom can do this.  However, it is impossible to walk around with your own humidifier at all times, so you must also stop the water from leaving your skin.  Putting a thin film on dry areas to stop the water loss can do this.

 

This thin film is known as a “moisturizer.”  Moisturizers do not put water back in the skin, but rather prevent water from leaving the skin.  Moisturizers must contain oily substances that stop water evaporation.  One of the most effective ingredients that can stop water loss is lanolin.  This natural substance is how sheep maintain their soft coat.  Another effective natural ingredient is beeswax.  This waxy material also traps water in the skin.  A highly effective natural moisturizer would combine lanolin and beeswax to stop water evaporation and allow the skin to remain full of water, despite a low humidity environment.  Improvement in skin moisturization is visible after one use, however continued use is necessary to maintain the skin’s optimal water content.

 

 

My hands are sore and cracked from all this hand washing!  What can I do?

Cracked, sore hands indicate water has been removed from the skin allowing the skin to become less elastic and crack.  The main component of your skin is protein.  If the protein has plenty of water, like an uncooked steak, it will be pliable and soft.  If the protein has little water, like a well-done cooked steak, it will be firm and hard.  Water is the secret to repairing damaged hand skin, but putting the hands in water will make the condition worse.

 

Again, it is necessary to trap water in the skin and create a barrier to further water loss.  Lanolin and beeswax are two excellent ingredients that can create a temporary barrier to water loss until the skin can heal.  The best time to apply a moisturizer to your hands is at night when your hands are at rest.  Rub two coats of moisturizer into your hands and also over your nails, cuticles, and fingertips just before you slip into bed.  You will notice great improvement in the morning.

 

You can also minimize further dry hands by cooling down the water temperature.  Hot water will dry out your hands more than cooler water.  Try to cut down on the length of time you wash your hands.  Wash quickly and then turn off the water.  Hand sanitizers are also very drying to your hands.  Consider wearing gloves when doing dirty or contaminated work and always wear gloves when doing dishes.

 

 

I drink lots of water.  Why is my skin still dry?  Do I need to drink more water?

Believe it or not, drinking lots of water does not moisturize your skin.  Drinking water is healthy and good for your kidneys, but dry skin cannot be repaired by increased water intake.  Dry skin must be healed by restoring the skin barrier.  This is accomplished by creating an optimal environment for the skin to heal.  The first step in allowing the skin to heal is stopping water loss from the skin.  This is done with a moisturizer.  The best moisturizers use natural oily substances that trap water in the skin.  Think of it like a water reservoir in the desert.  If you want to keep water in the reservoir, you put an oil slick over the water to stop evaporation.  The same principle works to heal dry skin.  Substances such as lanolin and beeswax stop water evaporation from your skin and allow healing.  Apply a lanolin and beeswax moisturizer twice daily to keep your skin moisturized and drink water to keep your kidneys healthy.