Critical Health News

Dry Skin

Dry skin (technically called xerosis) is one of the most common of skin health complaints. Moisturizing products account for nearly 10 billion dollars in annual sales. Even though, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 3 or 4 percent of the population suffer from xerosis, it’s tough to find an adult American who doesn’t have at least some degree of skin dryness. Even kids are susceptible to the condition. According to an article published the September 2006 issue of Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, atopic dermatitis, a cutaneous disease characterized by dry skin, affects 10-20 % of American children.

Yet, despite its ubiquity, dry skin should never happen! The skin is exquisitely equipped with various mechanisms that are supposed to assure the tissue remains hydrated. When that doesn’t occur, something in the ordinarily resilient and responsive cutaneous biochemistry is tweaked. In other words, dry skin is much more than a superficial cosmetic concern. As insignificant as it may seem, it’s a fully-fledged health care issue. Dry skin is a symptom, and symptoms are the smoke which indicate a biochemical breakdown fire.

In this way the symptomology of xerosis is a message; it’s a harbinger and indicator that somewhere in the body something is wrong or something is missing. In this way, skin dryness, like other symptoms, should be regarded as a friend; it’s an announcement of increased risk of other, more significant health care challenges including heart disease, autoimmunity and even cancer!

Though all of the above diseases can be associated with xerosis, most of us believe that the symptoms of xerosis are merely superficial. So, to deal with the itchy flakes and uncomfortable dryness, we merely put a moisturizer on and forget about the matter. Even skin care professionals are entranced by the illusion. Dermatologists, estheticians and cosmetologists, like their patients, address skin issues by working topically.

The problem with these types of topical solutions is just that: they work on the top of the skin in the ultra-thin surface of dead cells known as the stratum corneum. Skin dryness involves the deeper levels of the skin, where moisture factors (i.e. water trapping amino acids, sugars and fatty substances) reside. Creams and lotions can present the illusion of “moisturization” by creating a characteristic feel, but the tactile sensation associated with these kinds of products is really nothing more than a thin layer of wax, oil or silicone that we have been “con-ditoned” to believe is “moisture”.

The most important cause of dry skin is a lack of Essential Fatty Acids (especially Omega 6s) and fatty vitamins (D, E, A and K), either due to lack of supplementation and/or mal-absorption of these key substances. Fat absorption issues can be associated with liver or gall bladder problems as well as intestinal issues and deficiencies in stomach acid. Vitamin C also plays a role, as the production of moisture factors is at least partially dependent on the presence of this important essential nutrient.

From a topical perspective the most effective solution is application of products containing fat soluble Vitamin C; the best form goes by the name “ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate”. Look for at least 10 percent concentrations and give it some time. Remember skin dryness is a function of deficiencies at the lower levels of the skin and it may take a few days or even a week for enough Vitamin C to migrate deep enough to have an obvious effect. For a quicker result look for water trapping ingredients like hyaluronic acid or lactic acid, which act like moisture magnets. Both of these substances are found in normal healthy skin, where their water trapping properties are leveraged to maintain tissue hydration.

So, while it may be uncomfortable and distressing, there are solutions. Those solutions are not however “moisturizers”. You’ve got to address nutritional deficiencies. Use a few key ingredients to address the topical perspective. When your skin texture softens and hydration improves, you’ll know that your overall health is getting better and that you’re increasing your longevity while decreasing the likelihood or the progression of overall aging, bodily deterioration and degenerative disease.

Use these 10 Foods and Supplements that Moisturize from the Inside Out

  1. Omega 6 EFAs – important for production of skin moisturizing lipids

  2. Vitamin A – supports secretion of moisture factors

  3. Vitamin C – required for the production of skin fats

  4. Eggs – contains many skin friendly nutrients including Vitamins A, B, essential fats and cholesterol

  5. Avocados – tasty source of skin essential fats

  6. Vitamin E – protects skin fats

  7. Bone soup – source of water trapping sugars and protein sugar complexes

  8. Coconut Oil – source of Vitamin E and saturated fats that can provide topical relief from xerosis

  9. Whey Protein – contains moisturizing amino acids

  10. Salmon, sardines, anchovies or other fatty fish – one of nature's best sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids that support the skin's water barrier functions

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