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Taming Dry Skin

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Dear Dr. Levister: Since moving to California from Florida, I have developed very ashy super sensitive skin. Could this be caused by the environment? K.F.

Dear K.F.: In general, your skin is driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. Winter conditions also tend to make many existing skin conditions worse. But the reverse may be true if you live in a desert region such as southern California, where summer temperatures can top 110 F and humidity levels sink to 10 percent or less.

We all know what it means to have dry skin, it means that your skin cracks, your skin has lost a lot of moisture and it, looks ashy and in some cases the cracked skin can lead to more serious problems such as infection.

Your skin has two parts, the epidermis, and the dermis. The epidermis is outer waterproof, protective layer. The dermis is the inner layer that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. When you lose moisture your skin begins to show it in the form of dry skin. And in some cases, especially with African Americans you can develop ashy skin.

Ashy skin, which is called keratinized dehydrated disorder, is the worse form of dry skin because it is so visible. This condition is more visible on African Americans because it clashes with our skin tone. The most important question is how to get rid of it.

Forget the old-school stereotypes, like Black skin's always oily. There's little about African- American skin that is safely assumed, except that it can be supersensitive — its pigmentation, called melanin, may rebel against the wrong products by developing a discoloration that can stick around for months or years.

One of the most important things is to drink water. It helps to build moisture within your body. That is common knowledge but you also need a skin care regimen.

Limit alcohol and drugs, hot baths and showers which can have a drying effect. As you age your skin tends to be drier because your oil producing glands become less active. Women’s skin tends to become much drier after menopause.

Select soaps, deodorants detergents and personal skin products containing fatty oils derived from nuts such as shea butter. Applying a light layer of olive oil after a cool bath or shower may also help.

See your doctor if your skin doesn’t improve in spite of your best efforts!

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