What Is Chapped Skin?
Skin that’s chapped has cracks and fissures form on it. This painful condition is due to exposure to cold or wind, combined with dry or scaly skin. In many countries, this condition normally occurs during winter time or during extremely hot temperatures.
Chapped skin is very common on body parts where the skin is inelastic and thickened and in regions where there is frequent movement, such as eyelids, angles of the mouth, palms, clefts between toes and fingers and the ridges over the knuckles. Manual laborers and those who handle dry or rough objects such as bricks are generally predisposed to chapped skin.
How Does It Happen?
Extreme fluctuation of temperatures, pathogenic bacteria, radiation and ultra-violet rays are some of the factors that impinge the skin. Your skin has a barrier, a protective shield that external factors must penetrate before they can gain access to your body. However, this shield can be exhausted, which leads to soreness and cracking. The impaired outer covering also depletes the natural oils produced by your body. This results in an uneven complexion. When neglected, you wouldn’t want to look in the mirror ever again because your skin will deteriorate right before your own eyes.
What “Chaps” You?
Depleted natural oils make your skin prone to chapping. You may have overburdened your defense system by subjecting yourself to the following root causes:
- When you try to be a superhero and expose yourself to the elements such as sun, cold and wind too much.
- When you use chemicals, soap and water too frequently.
- When essential fatty acids barely enter your body because of a new unhealthy diet.
- When you leave your sunscreen and protective clothing at home when you need it most.
- When you don’t use your rubber gloves when you clean, scrub and subject your hands to water for prolonged periods.
- When you wash tight-fitting clothing using harsh detergents and your skin reacts to it.
- When you neglect your skin’s cry for help.
Carrots, tomatoes and green, leafy vegetables all contain precious Vitamin A, which promotes skin growth and repair. Legumes, whole grains, wheat germ and nutritional yeast provide an essential fatty acid boost. Unrefined vegetables also contain the vital pantothenic acid (also known as Vitamin B5) that promotes moist skin. However, the busy individual doesn’t always have time to prepare these items. If that’s the case, there is an easy solution. Simply make a vitamin-rich drink yourself by mixing one tablespoon of water cress, carrots, spinach juice and tomato juice. Then, get some wheat germ oil and add two tablespoons to the mix. Lastly, add one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and sweeten with sugar to taste.
Drink this concoction every morning and (in time) you’ll certainly have more natural oils to protect your skin.
You can also buy some supplements that should solve your Vitamin A, B, C and essential fatty acids deficiency. Here are some daily dosage suggestions (although you shouldn’t follow this if you’re pregnant):
- Take two 500 mg evening primrose oil capsules three times a day. Evening primrose supplements contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that has an awesome reputation for boosting moisture content and strengthening skin cells.
- One 50 mg Vitamin B complex.
- One Vitamin A capsule (25,000 IU).
- One 1,500 mg Vitamin C with bioflavonoids.
There are also herbal rituals you can perform in order to relieve and prevent chapped skin.
- Apply Comfrey cream externally. This will help your skin grow new cells.
- During dry weather, you can apply a layer of Calendula ointment on your chapped skin. Exposing chapped skin to the sun’s rays is painful. Bring your ointment!
- After bathing, apply a generous layer of oils such as St. John’s wort, mashed avocado or olive.
The homeopathic approach to skin problems is generally constitutional. This means it may take months to resolve a painful skin crisis. Homeopathy is very organic and it’s a good way to treat chapped skin. Here’s what you need to do.
- Apply petroleum jelly on red, rough and cracked skin at the corners of the mouth.
- Cracks on fingertips heal very slowly and they get worse during cold weather. Heal them comfortably by applying silicea on it.
- For those dry, itching cracks, take some sulfur. This is best for cracks aggravated by fungal infections and by washing.
- If infections and discomfort still persist, it’s time to visit a homeopathic doctor.
If you’re experiencing scaly skin, take a saline bath to greatly reduce the chapping and scaling. Here’s how:
- Prepare your tub by filling it with warm water. Add six pounds of rock salt or table salt and let it dissolve thoroughly.
- Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Blot yourself dry with a bath towel and finish off with a nice almond or olive oil massage.
- Repeat daily for best results.
Words of caution:
- Never do this unless you are in excellent physical health.
- Never do this or use commercial salt rubs when you already have cracked skin because it stings! This treatment is only for minor scaling.
Use Your Common Sense
Here’s a complete list of the must-do and must not.
- Don’t allow your skin to wither. Use a humidifier or place a bowl of water near your heater (or radiator) to counteract the loss of moisture created by your central heating.
- The beauty equation is healthy diet equals healthy skin. Remember that Vitamin A is a must for maintaining skin tissue, Vitamin B promotes the repair of damaged skin, Vitamin E is for general skin condition, and Vitamin C promotes collagen production. Your body can convert beta carotene to Vitamin A.
- Get adequate sleep because the cell’s repair activities are only optimized during sleep.
- Boost your blood flow circulation by doing regular exercises so that you can cleanse your skin from within.
- Stimulate your sebaceous glands by dry brushing your skin every morning.
- Before bed time, extract the white of an egg and mix it with one ground almond. Apply this on your face. For skin that feels dry, always apply nourishing cream before you sleep.
- Try having a milk bath or clean your skin with gram flour that’s made into paste and mixed with milk cream. Soap is designed to dissolve the fats from the skin, which is why you should avoid the regular use of soap. Switch to beauty soaps when you don’t feel too dirty.
- Get enough Vitamin D by exposing yourself moderately to the early morning or late afternoon sun.
- Before taking a bath, massage yourself with warm olive oil, coconut oil or mustard. Blot yourself dry with a bath towel after bathing, not vigorously (especially if you have dry skin to begin with).
- Don’t aggravate the itching and scaling by wearing wool or other rough clothing. Choose soft clothes.
- Don’t use harsh soap to clean your face.
- If you are dealing with kids, avoid following a bath with talc or powder because it can further dry out the skin.
- Rinse well whenever you or your children bathe. Residue may irritate the skin and cause chapping.
- Never use strong detergents to wash your clothes. Remember that the word detergent means “take out oil,” so when you have chapped skin, you don’t want the detergent residue to take out that oil from your skin.
- Refrain from using dryer sheets because the residue (fused with fabric softener) also causes chapped skin.
- Always have a cool shower every time you step out of a swimming pool. Remain under the cool shower for two to three minutes, then finish off with a moisturizer (such as Vaseline) to trap the water on the skin.
Chapped skin is itchy and often results in an irritation over wide areas of the body. Bacteria can easily invade the skin through the cracks on its surface. When chapped skin becomes severe, it might require professional help because it causes a lot of discomfort and even pain. Visit a doctor if this is your situation.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of chapped skin.