The science behind your dry skin & how to fix it

The science behind your dry skin & how to fix it
Updated: Jan. 2, 2018 at 12:15 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As if the cold was not enough, we are also dealing with dry, flaky skin. So why does this happen and how can we alleviate the dry skin blues?

Our skin is the moisture barrier to the outside elements and serves as our protector from the changing weather conditions. There are multiple culprits for causing the moisture in our skin to dry out, especially during the cold weather months in the Mid-South.


Although water in your skin also evaporates on more humid days, it's much less than on days with low humidity. Meteorologists use the dewpoint temperature to measure moisture, because it is the best representative for moisture content in the air. Typically during winter in the Mid-South, dewpoints are in the teens. Recently, dew points have been in the single digits or below zero! So if your skin has been feeling abnormally dry, this is why.

The outermost layer consists of dry skin cells that sit over the new, living skin cells below. When that top layer gets dry, it starts to shrink in size and eventually cracks. This is when you get the dry skin that starts to flake off.

We use heat to warm-up, but this is actually another reason for our dry skin. If you've ever been to the desert southwest in the summer, you have probably experienced the dry heat that parches your skin. When you crank the heat in your car or house, you are creating a similar environment that zaps the moisture from your skin.


If you're suffering from dry skin, there are a few things you can do to combat it. We highly recommend using a humidifier at home to add moisture to the air. You don't need one in every room, since you can move it around depending on where you spend the most time. You might want to put it into the living room or office during the day and then move it to the bedroom at night. You can find a quality humidifier for less than $30. Just make sure you clean it at least once a month to avoid build-up of germs or mold within the machine.

If you normally take a long, hot shower in the morning, you may want to lower the temperature and shorten the time. When your hot, damp skin is exposed to the air after the shower, moisture evaporates quickly from your skin. If you just can't bear to lower the temperature or shorten the time, you will definitely want to moisturize within 5 minutes of getting out of the shower to help lock in any moisture.

That brings us to the next (more obvious) tip. MOISTURIZE! Apply lotion or cream to your skin at least once each day. Dermatologists have found that moisturizers with olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, or Shea butter are best at alleviating dry skin. This is especially important for areas that are more exposed during the day, such as your hands. You will also want to keep your lips moisturized with lip balm and have eye drops on hand for dry eyes.

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