By Alix Fuller
Cosmetics: What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin and how does each condition manifest itself?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Dehydrated and dry are actually not medical terms when it comes to describing the skin. The correct description would be a build-up of stratum corneum cells (the top layer of cells on the skin). In some cases, especially with mature people, the skin doesn’t rid itself of these dead cells as readily as it should and the result is a “flaky” or “dry” appearance. Both terms are used to describe the same thing. Some people with “dry” skin might actually have a case of dermatitis, psoriasis or some other skin disorder, so it is important to see a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis.
C: What treatment options are there?
Dr. LK: Treatment begins with exfoliation, either with a topical exfoliator or with mechanical means such as crystal microdermabrasion or diamond peels. After that, a good moisturizer or humectant can be used liberally. In more severe cases, a dermatologist will prescribe a stronger treatment with a topical steroid.
C: Can this condition, left untreated, escalate into something worse?
Dr. LK: Yes. If left untreated, skin can become quite irritated with redness, fissuring, bleeding and even infection.
C: What’s involved in choosing the right moisturizer?
Dr. LK: Choose one that’s appropriate for your skin type. If your skin tends to become flaky, you’ll need a moisturizer with a richer base than someone with oilier skin. And if you do have oilier skin, look for products that are oil-free and water-based. Stay away from those that are oil-free only, as they can still cause breakouts.
C: How can people with oily skin tell if they need to use a moisturizer?
Dr. LK: If your skin feels tight 30 minutes after washing, you need to use moisturizer. If your skin is oily after those 30 minutes, then no moisturizer is necessary.
C: How does moisturizer work?
Dr. LK: It works by leaving a layer of product on top of the stratum corneum and flattening out the dead skin cells, thus improving skin’s appearance.
C: Is it safe for people with dry, dehydrated skin to undergo cosmetic procedures like dermabrasion, peels, Botox, etc.?
Dr. LK: It is safe if it’s done under the direction of a dermatologist who can adjust the treatment settings, make allowances for the underlying skin problem appropriately and monitor the effects of the treatment.