HOW TO FIX ITCHY SKIN
Do you struggle with dry itchy skin and battle cracking skin each winter? According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 81 million Americans report experiencing dry, itchy or scaly skin during the winter months.
Why is the winter so brutal on our skin?
In the winter humidity drops and with that there’s in increase in water loss from our skin. Healthy skin is compromised of 20-35% water yet in the winter months it can drop to 10%!
That drop in water content leaves our skin dry, itchy and extremely vulnerable as our outer layer of our skin, the stratum corneum, loses some of it’s ability to protect us from viruses, bacteria and skin damage.
Our skin cells are linked together in sheets in a fashion much like tiles and mortar. The cells being the tiles and the mortar being the nutrients that you must have ample amounts of to keep that skin layer intact. The cells of outer layer of skin contain the protein keratin and substances called natural moisturizing factors (NMFs). The keratin and NMFs work together to hold water in the skin, while attracting more water to maintain skin hydration and flexibility. The only problem is that keratin and NMFs are water soluble and can become dehydrated with excess showering, swimming, hot tubbing and hand washing.
The mortar between our “skin tiles” contains nutrients that are key to preserving skin hydration. The most important of those nutrients are ceramides. Ceramides are a combination of fatty acids and cholesterol. Ceramides combine with sweat to create an acid mantle barrier to keep out bacteria and viruses while they prevent water loss from the natural moisturizing factors in the skin cells. Ceramides are responsible for maintaining smooth skin texture. Examples of ceramides are:
- When the skin is dehydrated and has and fewer fatty acids to lubricate and maintain it’s protective barrier the skin is not able to exfoliate properly.
- When the skin can’t exfoliate it allows for a build up of dead skin that results in an “ashy”, white hazy, flaky appearance.
- When the skin is “ashy” it’s vulnerable, prone to infection and will start to age faster as it’s not able to heal itself at this point!
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
- Grab an exfoliant - I like Eminence’s Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant – it’s marketed for the face but works well on the entire body – after all it’s all the same type of skin! Use it daily.
- Get a glycerine based, ceramide rich moisturizer or serum. I love HydroPeptide’s Firming Moisturizer – it provides long lasting hydration and works to prevent wrinkles, scars, and skin discoloration that can come with friction induced injuries when the skin is dry. Note: It’s marketed as a slimming cream however, it’s my go to with Le Mieux’s Derma Relief Serum for preventing winter itch!
I also have used Skin Active’s ELS (Every Lipid Serum) with great success as well. Check it out at:
You’ll want to grab a few bottles as you’ll go through it faster when using it on the entire body.
You can make your own exfoliants as well as moisturizing serums.
Rice Flour Exfoliant – Grab some Organic Rice Flour – put a tablespoon in your palm and drop some water into the palm till you make a paste. Massage into the skin in a circular motion.
Moisturizing Aloe Oil:
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons aloe vera juice
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
- 5 teaspoons jojoba oil (carrot seeds oil is great here too)
- 30 drops lavender oil or other essential oils (optional)
- Put all of your ingredients in your blender and blend on low for just a couple of seconds. You can also place the ingredients in a glass jar and give it a good shake.
- Place the mixture in a glass jar and store in the fridge. Give the jar a good shake before each application.
Keeps in the fridge for a few weeks.
Twice daily application of the moisturizer, oil or serum of your choice
Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day
Get in good fats into your diet to help with your body’s reserves of fatty acids for the skin cells – I add in 4 tbsp of expeller pressed olive, unrefined coconut or avocado oil daily into dressings, cook with it and drizzle it over veggies from November to March.
Itching and bumps? Add in carrot seed oil to your daily regimen or consider using Say Yes to Carrots Moisturizer in addition to one of the ceramide rich options above.
Consider going low histamine for a while as histamines are proteins that can increase itching in the body. Here’s a list of all the high histamine foods – avoid these for a month or at the least try not to eat more than one of the items on the list in a day and see how the skin responds.
Histamine-Rich Foods (including fermented foods):
- Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine.
- Cheeses, especially aged or fermented cheese, such as parmesan, blue and Roquefort.
- Cider and home-made root beer.
- Dried fruits such as apricots, dates, prunes, figs and raisins (you may be able to eat these fruits - without reaction - if the fruit is thoroughly washed).
- Fermented foods, such as pickled or smoked meats, sauerkraut, etc.
- Processed meats - sausage, hot dogs, salami, etc.
- Smoked fish - herring, sardines, etc.
- Sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, yogurt - especially if not fresh.
- Soured breads, such as pumpernickel, coffee cakes and other foods made with large amounts of yeast.
- Spinach, tomatoes
- Vinegar or vinegar-containing foods, such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, ketchup, chili sauce, pickles, pickled beets, relishes, olives.
Note: I do not receive any compensation from the companies mentioned in this post. I love their products and want to share the knowledge.