HOMEOPATHY FOR XEROSIS OF THE SKIN
Dryness of skin is a very common skin problem and everyone might have experienced it in one or other time. It is medically termed as “Xeroderma”. This annoying dry skin may occur temporarily as a reaction to environment / irritants or in persistent manner with various systemic illness or skin complaints.As the name suggests Xerosis is medical term for dry skin. A lot of people suffer from this problem especially during the winter. Even though the winters in our city our mild we get a lot of cases of Xerosis. This is because of the lack of humidity in the atmosphere.
In our skin we have a natural protective oil coating produced by the oil glands present within the skin. If this protective oil covering is removed due to any reason the skin becomes dry and this can lead to problems like cracking and inflammation.
Many skin specialists like to differentiate between various types of dry skin. Those who have dry skin from birth or have the inherited form are said to be suffering from ICHTHYOSIS. Those who have acquired dryness of skin later in life are said to be suffering from XEROSIS. In reality it does not matter what medical term you give it, it's the symptoms that need to be taken care of and treated.
There are many factors which can contribute to causing Xerosis:-
Environmental factors - dry cold weather with low or negligible humidity is one of the main factors responsible for Xerosis. Also pollution present can affect the skin by drying it. Cold air makes the body's defense mechanism draw the blood supply away from the skin to the more vital organs. Unfortunately this reduces the nourishment to the skin causing dryness.
Sun and ultraviolet rays - excessive exposure to the sun can also cause dryness. In fact people who stay at a higher altitude are more at risk for developing xerosis as the ultraviolet rays are more harsh and powerful.
Artificial unhumidified air or heat - people who work and stay more indoors where there is either artificial heating or air-conditioning are more prone to developing dryness of the skin.
Metabolic factors - people suffering from certain metabolic disorders like Hypothyroidism have symptoms of dryness of the skin.
Water - contrary to what we think excessive bathing and working with water actually tends to dry the skin more. This could be due to the chemicals used to purify the water. Also chlorinated swimming pools cause Xerosis.
Detergent and soaps - the more chemicals you use on your body and clothes the more dryness you are going to experience. These detergents, cleaning agents and soaps tend to remove the moisture from the skin causing dryness.
Age - as you age your skin tends to get dry because the oil glands do not function in the same manner as when you were younger. The loss of moisture from the skin is greater in aged people.
Clothing - rough harsh material causes irritation of the skin which can cause Xerosis.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF XEROSIS
Here are few of the common symptoms and signs of this kind of dryness of the skin:-
a. The person will feel the dryness in the skin and there may be a tendency to itch. This itching can lead to redness and inflammation giving rise to dermatitis of the skin.
b. There is a typical dry scaly type of pattern of the skin. Some people develop fine lines on their dry skin.
c. The inherited form may have fish scales type of appearance.
d. Some people also experience flaking of the skin.
e. Xerosis is a common problem in people suffering from diabetes especially of the foot. Complications like ulcers and infection of the skin can take place.
PREVENT AND TREAT XEROSIS
There are many ways in which you can avoid Xerosis from happening by taking care of your skin. Written below are a few tips which will help:-
1. Bathing - do not take more than one bath a day unless necessary. Repeated bathing with water causes dryness and removes the protective oil layer of the skin. Ideally your bath time should not exceed 15 minutes maximum whether you are taking a shower or tub bath.
2. Temperature of water - hot water tends to dry the skin more than cold water. Therefore while bathing Lukewarm water is the best. Hot warm also causes irritation of the skin.
3. Soap - the more you bath the more soap you are going to use. Soaps have a tendency of causing dryness. Use those soaps, which have a moisturizing effect or are glycerine based. Also use as little soap as possible. Avoid highly perfumed or strong deodrant soaps.
4. Do not rub or scrub your skin - while bathing lightly apply the soap and do not scrub. Also while drying the skin after a bath do not vigorously rub yourself dry. Gently pat the skin dry.
5. Detergents - use mild unscented washing powder if anyone is suffering from Xerosis. Strong detergents with lot of chemicals in them tend to cause more irritation of the skin. Washing clothes or dishes is one job a person suffering from Xerosis should avoid if possible or use other methods of prevention like wearing gloves.
6. Moisturizers - this is the most important point to remember. Always use a moisturizer to prevent dryness of the skin. There are hundreds of different kinds of products advertised and available in the market. However you should be careful in choosing the correct one. Emollients are the most effective of the lot. They do not allow the moisture to evaporate from the surface of the skin. This should be applied after a bath when the surface of the skin is still moist. This can be re-applied several times during the day.
7. Use a sunscreen - it is extremely important to use a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of more than 30 if travelling to higher altitudes or spending more time out in the sun. This is also essential for children who play outdoor sports in the sun.
8. Clothes - as far as possible always wear skin-friendly clothing. Avoid rough and harsh fabrics which irritate the skin.
Homoeopathy along with the lifestyle changes will definitely improve the person's skin. The above tips must be followed as well as some dietary changes should be made. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid caffeinated and aerated beverages. Restrict your intake of alcohol as it acts like a dehydrating agent on your skin. Avoid eating junk and packet food and things like papad, pickles, farsan, biscuits as they contain more salt.
In our system of medicine we take the detailed case history with all the symptoms of the patient and treat accordingly.
This is a wonderful remedy for dry skin especially in the winter months.
Chapped hands and fingers, rough tips of fingers calls for Petroleum. The patient says that he feels much better in summer and has no dryness but come winter all his skin problems surface.
The skin of a Petroleum patient feels dry, parched, constricted, as if the skin is dehydrated. There is redness, "itching", and bleeding from the cracks. Here thick, greenish crusts are formed. Even wearing clothes becomes a problem and is painful for the person suffering.
Petroleum will bring great relief.
As the name only suggests this is a very useful drug for treating Xerosis. Here the patient will describe his symptoms saying that he feels as if the skin is like leather. It is rough and cracked. There may be inflammation of the skin and redness.
The patient will also complaint of intense itching and burning of the skin. He feels as if something is stinging.
However he feels worse with cold application and better if something warm is applied to the skin to which will reduce the itching and stinging.
Give Xerophyllum in repeated doses till the skin improves.
GRAPHITES: This is a mineral which is used as a medicine, effectively useful in skin affections with severe itching due to persistent dryness. Painful cracks and fissures in the ends of fingers, cracks in nipples, mouth and between fingers and toes could be brought to normal health by administration of this homoeo remedy. It is commonly known as ‘Black Lead’, which occurs as a black grey, soft gelatinous solid. This could be used as a preventive, when the skin just appears to crack with an unhealthy look. It also helps to cure dry skin with ulcers that discharge sticky fluid.
SULPHUR: It is the sublimated elemental sulphur, which is converted and used as medicine, in most therapies and practices of medicine. Homoeo also uses this, to relieve skin troubles that look very dirty, unhealthy and extremely dry. Cracks that develop in the lips and corners of the mouth with much dryness can be relieved with this remedy.
Dry skin very commonly produces itching, which can be severe and interfere with sleep and other daily activities. Repeated rubbing and scratching can produce areas of thickened, rough skin (lichenification). Dry, thickened skin can crack, especially in areas subject to chronic trauma (e.g., hands and feet), causing painful cracks in the skin (fissures). Dry skin and scratching may result in dermatitis when the skin becomes red (inflamed) in addition to dry and scaly. Round, scaly, itchy, red patches scattered over the legs, arms and trunk (nummular eczema) may also appear. The appearance of yellow crusts or pus in these areas indicates that a bacterial infection is developing. A deep crack on skin indicates syphilitic miasm. If it gets aggravated in winter it further indicates existence of psoric miasm. An anti-tubercular remedy will be effective in deep cracks during winter. Bacillinum is one among them. When the cracks became deep and it bleeds, it should be treated with anti-syphilitic remedies. Before Syphillinum one should think about Sarasaparilla as it won’t make any aggravation in skin complaints.