Lotions, Creams and Gels

It is summer now and dry skin is not an uncommon site in the physician’s office. In fact, it is second only to the winter months when dry skin really becomes a problem, at least at the latitude and longitude where I work.

Some dry skin can have a genetic predisposition.  It runs in families who have what we physicians refer to as atopy.  It goes right along with a propensity for seasonal allergies and asthma.  If you are a member of one of these families, you are usually well aware of that.

Yet in spite of these propensities, most of the dry skin I see is self-induced.  And it is complicated by using  too much soap in the shower and the use of lotions, creams and gels. Is your skin dry after swimming or bathing?  Slather on some lotion or cream.  That will feel better.

Unfortunately, by definition, a lotion’s primary ingredient is water. And this is the same for creams. Even worse, a gel’s main ingredient is alcohol. So imagine the additional damage you are inflicting upon yourself when you slap on a lotion, cream or gel to skin that is already excessively dry.  It is like putting gasoline on a fire.

Instead, try using baby oil.  Oil has a natural tendency to be absorbed better into our skin which is lipophilic (has an affinity for lipids (oils). And stop using those water and alcohol-based skin care products.  They look good on the shelf but they’re making a bad problem only worse.