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By Wendy E. Roberts, MD, FAAD
More about Dr. Roberts

Wendy Roberts, MDHow do you know if you have dry skin?

  • Does your skin feel dry to touch?
  • Does your skin look ashy? (silver, white flakiness that sits on the skin surface)
  • Do you see white scratch marks on your skin?
  • Do you have to lotion more than twice a day to keep moisturized?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have dry skin.

  • Dryness is a frequent finding in ethnic skin types particularly African- American and Afro-Carribean descendants
  • It is a “normal” finding of aging skin. Affecting at least 75% of this age group thus making it the most common skin disorder in the elderly.
  • Persons therefore 65 and older and of predisposed ancestry are most frequently affected by dry skin
  • Dry skin in predisposed individuals usually affects the extremities more than the face because sebaceous or oil glands are less numerous in these areas.
  • The scientific reason for dry skin is decreased moisture in the outer layer of skin because of increased water loss in the outer layers. The skin barrier has a decreased amount of fats.

Tips to avoid Dry Skin

  • Avoid hot showers, using warm water
  • Avoid showering more than once a day on a regular basis
  • Avoid harsh/detergent soaps; instead use moisturizing soaps of a thick creamy consistency
  • Some skin types which are sensitive should avoid products containing flowers, herb and fragrance
  • Avoid prolonged skin exposure to chemicals such as chlorine
  • Avoid prolonged skin exposure to heating devices, fireplaces

Care of Dry skin

  • Use petrolatum based moisturizers
  • Moisturize immediately after towel drying which helps the outer skin layer retain moisture.
  • Reapply body lotion/moisturizer twice to three times per day

Treatments for Dry Skin-Emollients

  • Petrolatum
  • Ammonium lactate
  • Urea
  • Humectants- Hyaluronic-based body preparations

"America's Ethnic Skin: an Al Roker Health Special" was sponsored by
AMBI ® Skincare through a grant from Johnson& Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.

Women's Dermatologic Society
Toll-Free: 1-877-WDS-ROSE (937-7673)
eMail: wds@womensderm.org | www.playsafeinthesun.org

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