When your skin starts acting up, don’t panic! We ask Dr Mazlin Mohd Baseri, dermatologist at KPF Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital how to identify the causes and find the right solutions for your skin woes.
If you do not have eczema or any other skin condition that causes dryness, spending time in a dry environment is most likely the reason. When your skin is used to a humid climate, exposing it to less humidity both outdoors and indoors – all those hours in your air-conditioned office – will cause it to lose moisture and become dry. This is why you get flaky skin not only when you travel to a country with a different climate, but also when you’re in the airplane. Hot showers are another really quick way to strip your skin of natural oils.
How well your skin withstands climate changes depends on the strength of your skin barrier, which protects it against moisture loss. Look for skincare products that contain skinrepairing ingredients such as fatty acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerine, just to name a few. You should also put on a rich, creamy moisturiser to keep water from evaporating from your skin.
Read more: 7 best facial masks for dry skin
You look into the mirror and realise your skin is not looking its best. Dull skin could be mainly caused by dehydration and also environmental pollutants like dust and exhaust fumes, especially if you’re out and about a lot. These fine particles settle on your skin and accumulate over time, causing your skin to look dull and ashy. The combination of sun exposure, unbalanced diet and improper cleansing could also lead to dull skin.
Like what doctors always advise, drink eight cups of water a day, or more if you’re always on your feet, to keep your body hydrated. The idea is to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty, because when thirst kicks in, your body is already dehydrated. On top of that, exfoliate gently at least three times a week with a soft facecloth and use moisturiser. “It’s best to apply a lightweight, non-fragranced moisturiser to skin that is still moist after cleansing,” says Dr Mazlin
Constant friction and pressure on certain parts of your body, like leaning your elbows on your desk, can cause rough patches to appear. Your skin may also have been exposed to chemicals that do not agree with it. Irritated skin presents as itchiness or discomfort, dryness, rough patches, dullness and redness. When scratched or rubbed over some time, the skin thickens (lichenification) and changes colour to become darker. It may also become painfully cracked or fissured with time,” says Dr Mazlin.
Reach for vitamin E, almond or olive oil as these give intense hydration and moisturisation. To smoothe your skin, you can start with gentle exfoliation – but avoid harsh scrubbing, as it could cause micro-tears and worsen hyperpigmentation. “If your skin still does not improve, see a dermatologist. There are medications that can help and your dermatologist will be able to advise you if you’re experiencing an allergic reaction. A patch test can be performed to identify the substance which is causing the reaction,” advises Dr Mazlin.
Redness is a sign of irritated skin, which may be due to irritant dermatitis (contact with a very irritating substance) or allergic dermatitis (contact with a substance that triggers an allergic reaction). Be aware of chemicals that cane in contact with your skin before the problem started to then find the solution. Rosacea may also be the cause of facial redness with triggers being prolonged exposure to the sun, stress and even food intake.
“The main goal in treating an irritant or allergic reaction is to stop using products that trigger the reaction, no matter how long you have been using them. Once the source of irritation is removed, the skin barrier begins repairing itself. It may take up to 10 days for the skin to restore itself fully. In the meantime, avoid any products or procedures that might impair your skin barrier, such as harsh foaming soaps and cleansers, exfoliating agents and toners, granular scrubs, electric face brushes, and microdermabrasion. I suggest using gentle, non-fragranced liquid cleansers,” says Dr Mazlin. If you have sensitive skin, avoid changing products frequently.