Level 2, Pathology Building, John Hunter Hospital
Dry Skin: A burden for all Skin: Our natural covering
The skin is our largest organ it is constantly replenishing its surface and needs your
help to keep the right moisture levels as we age. Looking after your skin is
particularly important for people living with autoimmune illness were dryness can
result in discomfort, irritation and inflammation. As we nourish our inner being, we
also need to consider nourishment of our outer natural covering.
Dry skin results from a low level of sebum and can make us prone to sensitivity due to
its reduced ability to produce and retain moisture. Redness, flaking of skin, itchiness,
chapping and cracking are signs of extremely dry, dehydrated skin. What we eat,
drink, and do in our skin affects our skin response to retaining moisture or exacerbate
The environment we live in presents us with unique conditions, which we need to
manage to combat dryness. Our winters can be cold and windy and our summers are
sunny, hot and dry. We live and travel in artificial environments cooled and heated by
air-conditioning often moving from one extreme temperature to the next. All of these
things can increase the drying of our skin, eyes and mouth.
This information sheet offers some advice on how to look after your skin and help
combat some of the life elements we are confronted with in our daily life that can
exacerbate dryness of the skin.
This fact and tip sheet is a companion to: SJOGREN'S SYNDROME TIPS FOR RELIEVING DRY MOUTH AND EYES Please contact the ARRC office for a copy or download form our website: www.haps.nsw.gov.au/Patients/Scleroderma__Lupus_Resources Causes
The skin through its oil glands do not supply enough lubrication to the skin,
therefore it becomes dehydrated.
Dry skin could be due to an autoimmune illness such as Sjogrens, Lupus,
Eczema or Scleroderma
Dry skin could be due to a genetic condition.
Skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea.
Dry skin could also be a result of taking medications including diuretics,
antispasmodics and antihistamines.
Skin gets exposed to the elements such as wind, cold and sun. Winter is
particularly a problem due to over heating in our living and workspaces and
the heating zapping the moisture in the air.
Nutritional deficiencies, especially deficiencies of vitamin A and the B
Too much alcohol and caffeine
Not enough water
Environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals, cosmetics, soaps and
Excessive bathing with harsh soaps and cleansers.
Bathing and showers in hot temperature rather than warm
No replenishment of skin moisture through use of water, lubricants,
moisturisers and oils. Tips for Caring for Dry Skin
1. Avoid the use of Hot Water when cleansing your skin. This extends to baths
and showers. Warm showers and baths are better for cleansing and preventing
dryness for occurring.
2. Use soft cloths as rough surfaced cloths can irritate the skin.
3. Spray face with deionised or mineral water with a few drops of essential oils
to freshen face during the day. Chemicals such as chlorine in tap water can
irritate and hasten drying of skin surface on the face.
4. Regular stimulation of the skin surface through gentle rubbing or massage can
help to invigorate the skin. Use a good quality moisturiser or some essential
oils or Aloe Vera to help rehydrate the skin surface. Avoid Baby Oil
as it is a
petroleum-based product. Olive oil from your kitchen can be used if you don’t
have access to essential oil products. Good Oils for Dry Skin Almond, Apricot, Avocado Chamomile, Evening Primrose, Geranium Lavender, Olive, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang
5. Most soaps have a drying effect on the skin, this includes bath and shower
gels. There use not only removes dirt but also the natural oils protecting the
skin. If you need to use a soap try one that has a neutral pH or a moisturiser
within them. A non-perfumed sorbolene cream with warm water can also be
used as a soap substitute it removes dirt and moisturises at the same time.
6. Remember to pat the skin dry after a bath or showers.
7. Moisturise often but particularly after bathing, shaving or washing your hands.
Moisturisers increase the water content of the skins outer layers and provide a
protective barrier to wind and sun. If possible apply moisturisers in a double
action: after bathing or shaving, pat the skin dry moisturise, allow this to be
absorbed and then apply a 2nd layer.
8. Wear a sunscreen lotion daily even in winter. This protects you from harmful
UV radiation in the sunlight, whilst driving and from store and office lighting.
It also helps prevent moisture loss.
9. Try to use nondetergent based, neutral-pH products to cleanse your skin and
when shampooing your hair.
10. For cracked, dry skin on the fingers, use calendula cream or oil with comfrey,
vitamin E oil, and Aloe Vera.
11. Moisturising at night can have special benefits. Hands and feet can have a
thicker more intensive moisturiser applied before going to sleep. Try applying
the moisturiser as a final preparation before going to sleep. To increase the
moisturising effect apply thickly and wear some cotton gloves and or socks.
12. You can also increase the absorption of lotions and creams on the hand by
applying the cream then wearing cotton gloves then plastic gloves and placing
the hands in warm water.
13. Keep any chapped areas protected from the elements, wear gloves, socks and
14. Stay out of the wind and sun. The wind and sun is responsible for most of the
damage done to the skin. It causes dryness, wrinkles, irritated and burning
15. Do not smoke
. Nicotine contained within cigarettes will deprive the skin of
oxygen and essential nutrients by constricting the blood vessels, including the
tiny capillaries that serve the skin. Smoking also dries the skin and can make it
appear dull, dry and leathery. Herbs and Natural remedies for dryness
• Aloe Vera can sooth, heal and moisturise.
• Lavender oil mixed into your bath water, into a misting bottled or into some sorbolene
cream can help moisture and sooth irritated skin.
• Oatmeal can be used as a gentle cleanser in the bath or shower. Just place a handful of
rolled oats into an old stocking, tie a knot at the end and use with warm water. Throw the sock away after use.
• Be like Cleopatra and have a milk bath, in a warm bath mix in 150gm of powdered milk and a tablespoon of olive or almond oil. The milk has a great calming and soothing
effect providing a skin tonic.
• Calendula flowers can be simmered in a brew and filtered into some olive oil to make a
moisturiser to sooth and soften the skin.
• Comfrey can be prepared the same way and is useful for red and irritated skin.
• Teas made of camomile, dandelion, peppermint are good black tea and coffee
The air we breathe
Sometimes we live and work in a dry environment, this can exacerbate dryness
symptoms of the skin but also dryness of the eyes mouth and airways. Many people
report that dryness can be worse at night or in the early morning. This may be
alleviated by changing the humidity within your sleeping space.
1. Use a humidifier to put some moisture in your environment, especially in
winter. This helps to reduce the amount of moisture lost from the skin through
evaporation. The use of a humidifier can also help with dry airways.
Commercial humidifier can be purchased from chemists and good electrical
shops, the majority have safety shut off to prevent them running dry. This
allows safer use overnight.
2. Moisture can also be placed back into a room with a heater by placing an open
dish of water near or in front of your heater. The water will need to be topped
up overtime. You can also place a few drops of scented oil in the water to
leave an air freshened smell in the room.
3. Try to avoid sudden temperature changes indoors and keep your home warm
rather than overheated. In Australia, the recommendation for a comfortable
room should range from 22◦C to 24◦C in winter and between 21◦C and 22◦C in
4. Your skin is fragile and needs extra care as we age and if we have an
autoimmune illness. Use good quality moisturisers even when you are indoors
to form a barrier of protection.
5. Drink plenty of water, at least 2 litres a day. What about eating and drinking?
1. Drink plenty of water at least 2 litres daily. Tea and Coffee do not count
Some people report that drinking warm water can a little easier than ice or
cold water. Try it with a slice of lemon, a strawberry or a couple of mint
leaves. There is also a product called chlorophyll that gives a minty taste to
water and does not take away from the rehydrating effects, as do other
additives such as cordial, coffee and tea.
Tip: Whenever you go to the toilet, wash your hands then drink a glass of water
2. A good nutritious diet including vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts.
3. Increase your fibre intake through eating more raw foods.
4. Eat protein with every meal including protein from both animal and vegetable
5. Eat fruits and vegetables of red, purple, yellow and orange colour as these are
high in antioxidants. Berries are especially good.
6. Vitamin A and C rich foods such as carrots, apricots and rock melon, are good
for dry skin. These foods are important nutrition for the skin.
7. The use of cold-pressed oils in the preparation of foods is better that using
heat-processed vegetable oils which are associated with the presence of free
radical which are destructive to overall health.
8. Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, cordials and additional
sugar. These substances have a diuretic effect, causing the body and skin cells
to dehydrate through the loss of essential fluids and minerals.
9. Limit your intake of junk or ‘comfort foods’ such as lollies, cakes, chocolate,
and potato chips. These foods can increase your weight as well as aid in the
dehydration of the body through salt and sugar levels.
10. Try not to eat fried and fat laden foods.
Tip: Evening primrose oil, fish oil and flaw seed oil supplements are beneficial for
overall health and for the support of skin nutrition and health. Keep your diet simple and balanced. Follow the good food triangle. The final word
1. Try to exercise regularly as exercise encourages blood flow and circulation
nourishing the skin from within.
2. Get the correct amount of rest as the skin's repairs itself and renews it layers
best during our resting phases or while we sleep.
3. Have a healthy and positive attitude to managing what you eat, drink, and do
in your skin.
Marline Squance Executive Officer ARRC