Surprising Dry Skin Cause and Cure
The Saga of One Woman's Dry Skin Problem and Solution
I noticed in my late fifties that my skin became super dry. This is not surprising as our bodies and skin tend to change as we age. What was surprising is that my lower arms looked the same way my grandmother's did when she was in her mid eighties. That, and it seemed to happen rapidly, rather than gradually.
The next thing I noticed was my legs. The skin was as flakey as strudel. If I wore dark socks in winter, and took them off the inside was covered with flakes of skin. Banging the socks together caused a cloud of dead skin to form in the air. Yech!
Getting to the Heart of the Dry Skin Problem
Trials and Tribulations
I have always had "normal" - not dry/not oily -- but sensitive skin. Early on I learned to cover up in the sun and to use sunscreen or I would blister and peel. I always took care of my skin, so why was this happening to me and why so suddenly? It seemed to come on suddenly.
At an appointment with my Naturopath, for another reason, I mentioned my arms. Due to the sudden onset of the scaly flakes I though it might be symptomatic of another problem. My Naturopath, who I have the utmost respect for, and has helped me with so many other problems, replied, "That's your bark dear. I tell all my patients that as we age we all develop bark. Try a little lotion". THIS, was not the answer I was hoping for; I had lotioned. Moreover, I left her office mumbling to myself "now, I am a gnarly old tree".
Not wanting to become a self-obsessed narcissist, I decided to let the aging process take its course and accept it -- although not happily.
Then I went to my Dermatologist for some skin tags around my eyes. She suggested that I also have a body check for anything that looked cancerous. In the process of scrutinizing for suspicious moles, she noticed my dry skin and seemed alarmed it was so bad. When she asked what kind of soap I was using, I indicated I was currently using an olive oil soap and she agreed that was exactly right for my dry skin. Her advice was that I IMMEDIATELY apply moisturizer to my towel dried skin after showering.
Okay, I diligently did what she said. I applied every kind of moisturizer I could get me hands on, without success. Then, I tried baby oils and vegetable oils from the kitchen. My skin was somewhat softer and smoother for a little while, but it a few hours I was back to sandpaper arms and snowflake legs.
My Accidental Discovery
No More Snowflakes and Bark
One day, I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinet and I came across a bottle of Vitamin A tablets, that I bought, but never took. They weren't expired yet, and I thought before they expire I should probably take them. Thinking that I don't eat as many Vitamin A rich foods in the summer, as I do in the winter, maybe I could use some. (In the winter I eat more sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and winter squash). I started taking one 8000 IU capsule a day.
In about two weeks, I noticed how smooth my legs were. There were no more snowflakes falling. Then sometime after that I noticed my lower arms were smoother. "What's going on", I wondered. Then the light dawned that the only difference was that I was taking Vitamin A.
Over the next few days, I noticed other things. Those little bumps in back of my arms were smoothing out and that "V" shaped area from my neck to cleavage was looking pretty great.
After 4 weeks my legs remained smooth, my lower arms, although not 100% perfect are about much less scaly.
Many years ago, I read Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit by Adelle Davis. I was very impressed at the time and made many changes to my eating habits. I whisked out my old yellowed paperback copy and sure enough in Chapter 7, Ms.Davis discusses the changes to skin when a Vitamin A deficiency is present. She also discusses it in her book Let's Get Well.
I believe I eat a pretty well balanced diet of whole grains and fruits and vegetables. My guess is that as I aged I need more Vitamin A.
Not Everyone's Dry Skin Solution
Give It Some Thought
If a Vitamin A deficiency could be the cause of your dry skin, this might be worth a try. A good place to start is by reading Lets Eat Right to Keep Fit. Adelle Davis goes in considerably more detail about the symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency.
Another caveat-- my understanding is Vitamin A is one of a few vitamins that can be toxic in too high a dose. You should really consult a physician or naturopath to determine a safet dose for you. Or, consider a safer route and just up your intake of yellow and orange vegetables and fruits: carrots, apricots, squash, pumpkin, etc.
I have found the only way to soften feet is to cover them with any sort of cream -- baby oil, olive oil, Vaseline -- it doesn't matter. Put on a pair of cotton socks and go to sleep. After a few nights of this, you will have feet like a baby.
Not Everyone's Dry Skin is Caused by a Vitamin A Deficiency
Try the link below to helpful beauty hints
- Paula's Choice Link
Once you get to the link for Paula's Choice, click on "Learn" and Paula gives excellent cosmetic and skin care tips. Some of them involve her own products, but many are information on skin care in general and the type of product to use.
Read Paula Begoun's Books
Her books are virtual encyclopedias. They give in depth information on cosmetics and skin products. She explains ingredients and what they do, which to look for and which to avoid.
She gives great tips that help you avoid buying costly products that don't work.
I am so impressed with this book. I first started using it many years ago and the information is so valuable. Learn which inexpensive cosmetics have the exact same, or better ingredients than the expensive ones.
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© 2011 Ellen Gregory