5 ways to help soothe irritated and dry skin

If you're like me the colder seasons can bring on unwanted changes and irritation to your skin.

Your integumentary system is the largest organ of the body, it surrounds you from head to toe and includes your skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. It is often neglected and overlooked in times of stress and has many ways of showing you what is going on inside your body.

When your skin feels irritated it can be dry, flaky, tight, flushed or blemished - this is your body telling you that something deep inside may not be balanced. Skin conditions are mostly multi-factorial and potential irritants or causes of your unwanted skin conditions may include certain medications, lack of particular nutrients, hormone fluctuations, dehydration, or your skin care regime may not be right for you (even though you're paying a fortune for the products).

Your skin layers

Your skin is continuously exposed to the external environment and therefore is prone to changes in appearance and feel. Your skin is made up of three main parts - the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer. These layers require a selection of particular nutrients, minerals and care that are primarily responsible for the integrity of your skin. By increasing these nutrients and minerals in your diet you will be able to see and feel improvements in skin appearance.

5 tips to help sooth irritated and dry skin

1. Drink plenty of water - drinking an adequate amount of water each day is great for overall health but particularly for your skin. Drinking water will promote good digestion, help eliminate toxins, improve circulation and aid in the absorption of nutrients. Proper hydration can also help skin appearance. It is recommended adults above 18 years of age consume at least 2.5 L of water daily minimum.

2. Eat raw nuts, seeds and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) - a handful of nuts and seeds (raw and unroasted) and consuming 3 tablespoon of EVOO daily are a great way to increase your essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs play a crucial role in your skins structure, strength and protection ability. EFAs help the skin to hold moisture by reducing water loss and may even help protect it from sun damage. Include these high EFA containing foods in your diet - flaxseeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, EVOO, kidney beans and edamame beans.

3. Eat foods rich in zinc - zinc is a mineral and an essential co-factor needed to promote wound healing and has been shown to help reduce infection related to the skin. Consume these foods high in zinc - legumes, meat, seafood, dairy, whole grains, eggs, nuts and seeds.

4. Oat bath - Avena sativa or more commonly known as oats (yes the same oats you make your porridge with) can help reduce itchy, irritated and dry skin. Oats contain anti inflammatory properties which may inhibit the release of particular compounds that cause the skin to itch. An oat bath soak can help sooth the skin. Follow this simple oat bath soak recipe: 1 cup regular oats, 1 tablespoon dried lavender, 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Place all ingredients into bath water or tie up ingredients in muslin bag and leave in bath water.

5. Use a topical cream rich in Vitamin A - studies have shown that topical application of vitamin A can increase your skins resistance to injury and will promote healing. Vitamin A application can also reduce wrinkles and dryness and may be able to increase water retention of the skin. NB: caution in pregnancy. Do not use daily as may cause irritation.

The role of a Naturopath in skin health

Naturopaths see skin conditions as disharmony in the body. Topical applications such as corticosteroid creams often temporarily hide the presenting symptoms however if the condition is not looked into further the unwanted skin condition may keep arising. A naturopath will identify and and treat the cause holistically and support the body's innate ability to heal itself with good nutrition, herbal medicines and soothing natural creams to alleviate suffering and most importantly focus on prevention.

Book an appointment now to see how a Naturopath can improve your irritating skin conditions.