Excessively dry skin can put a great dampener on the overall appearance of the person. Dry skin lacks the glow and the sheen of normal skin. It can become easily scratched and cracked, due to which there could be bruises on the skin even with slight frictions. Dry skin also loses its natural color. For all these reasons, it is very necessary to get dry skin treated as soon as possible.
Dry skin is generally caused due to environmental conditions. It is observed in cold weather, when the climate is too dry and cool. Since the climate is dry, it absorbs the water content of the skin, due to which it becomes dry. In this sense, dry skin is caused by vata vitiation. But sometimes, the skin becomes dry in the hot season also. If this happens, then the cause is a pitta vitiation.
(1) Useful Herbs/Plants in the Treatment of Dry skin
1. Aloe vera (Aloe vera)
Aloe vera replenishes the skin by providing the nutrients it lacks. Its extracts are used for massaging the skin.
2. Apple (Malus domestica)
Apple contains potassium and tannin which are both necessary to maintain the healthy texture of the skin. Apple not only removes the dryness of the skin, but also makes it appear shinier.
3. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)
Cucumber is beneficial if the dryness is especially over the face. The juices of the cucumber have a cooling effect on the face. Also the juices provide the lost water content to the face and reduce its dryness.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Dry skin
Since dry skin is caused due to vata or pitta vitiation, the diet should be designed to reduce these vitiations. Vata is the air element; while pitta is the fire element. The following guidelines must be followed:-
1. Cook your food in a little fat, suitably ghee. The food must not be totally dry.
2. If the dry skin is a result of vata vitiation (dry skin in cold weather), then eat foods that are heavy on the stomach. But do not use much spices.
3. If the dry skin is a result of pitta vitiation (dry skin in hot weather), then eat light foods that are easy to digest. Use more fibers in the diet.
4. Sweet foods are good for both vitiations.
5. Eat lots of fruits. Consume more of the sweet foods to build up the starch content in the skin.
6. The best condiments and spices to be used in the diet are cumin, coriander and turmeric. These soothe the skin.
7. Water is the most important part of the diet for correcting dry skin. About 7 to 8 glasses of water must be consumed in a day. But the water should be at room temperature. Cold water will aggravate the vata further.
8. Avoid alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages since they can make the skin drier.
(3) Home Medications
a. In order to reduce the dryness of the skin, massage therapy must be used. Any herbal oil will do for the massage. Almond, avocado and olive oils are the best. The whole skin must be massaged and fingers must be used to dig deeper so as to pass the oil into the skin. After the massage, you must wait for about half an hour (keep the massaged skin exposed to the air if possible) and then go for a bath. The period helps the oil to permeate into the skin.
b. If the dryness is on the face, then make a paste of about a teaspoonful of rose water and two of honey. Smear this paste nicely on the face. Let it remain for a couple of minutes and then wash it off with slightly warm water.
c. Mayonnaise gives good results when applied on the dry skin and let be for some time.
d. An apple can be used for treating excessive dryness of the skin. Cut an apple in half and run its fleshy part on the skin. Apply a bit of pressure and squeeze the apple onto the skin to let its juices flow in.
e. Do not use tap water for washing the face. Tap water contains chloride ions which may harm the dry skin. Use mineral water instead. In a similar manner, do not use an ordinary soap on the skin. There are soaps available with moisturizers. Use them when having your bath.
Maintain a proper daily regimen. Try to get up at a fixed time each morning and go to bed at a fixed time. The adage ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealth and wise’ is very true in the case of dry skin.
Regular exercise is also important. Exercise makes the blood circulate better, due to which the nutrients are transported to all parts of the body. This will make the skin moister.