Understanding dry skin – Interview with dermatologist Ville Kiiski

Beauty,8 December 2020

Maksettu kaupallinen yhteistyö La Roche-Posay :n kanssa// Paid collaboration with La Roche-Posay

I’ve had very dry skin with tendencies to atopic skin all my life. I’ve managed to keep mine somewhat in check, but it has required getting to know my skin thoroughly as well as dedication and good, regular skincare routine.

I’ve added La Roche Posay Hylau B5 serum to my skincare routine to get that extra hydration and glow. This gel like formula is easy to apply, makes the skin feel fresh, firm and plump and adds glow! It also reduces wrinkles and fine lines.

La Roche Posay is a pharmacy brand recommended by dermatologists and specialized in sensitive skin, which many of us here in the Nordic countries possess.

I know many of us have the same skin type and suffer from dry and sensitive skin which can cause discomfort; therefore, I now present to you my interview about dry skin with Ville Kiiski, MD, Dermatologist. I wanted to ask him about the causes of dry skin, how to care for it in the best way possible and clarify some myths. I learned so much, so hoping you’ll learn something new as well.

What can cause dry skin?

Ville Kiiski: The skin has a protective shield called ‘skin barrier’. This barrier acts as a defense mechanism against harmful microbes, irritants, and sun. It also locks moisture in to the skin. Any factor damaging this skin barrier can cause dryness:

– Soaps usually have a higher pH than the skin and they disrupt the skin barrier which can cause dryness and irritation. Too much scrubbing and exfoliation can lead to dryness, as well.

-Fragrances and some (beneficial) skin care compounds, such as retinol, AHA, and vitamin C, can trigger your sensitive skin. Irritation leads to dryness.

-Environmental factors. Low humidity (freezing winter months), extreme temperatures (both low and high) and sun exposure all can cause or worsen skin dryness.

-Some skin conditions/diseases. The most common of these is atopic dermatitis, which is very common in Finland. The tendency often begins in the childhood but atopic dermatitis can appear at any age. Atopic skin is dry and prone to irritation and rash.

-Aging always leads to dryer skin. A healthy, no-smoking lifestyle with good sun protection can help to slow down this effect. Hydration is a must!

-Household chemicals. Many common household cleaners can irritate and dry out the skin on the hands. These include such as laundry detergents and oven/stove cleaners.

Why do some people have sensitive skin?

Ville Kiiski: Sensitive skin is an extremely common problem. Sometimes there can be a skin disease behind it, such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea, or contact allergy. Often dry skin is sensitive skin. This means that any factor weakening the skin barrier can make the skin more sensitive. Genetic factors play a role: sensitive skin is more common in lighter skin types and atopic skin – which is always sensitive – is hereditary as well.

Is it true that people with dry skin are prone to get more wrinkles and more visible signs of aging?

Ville Kiiski: Yes. Skin dryness can make fine wrinkles appear earlier and in larger amounts. Aging itself is making the skin more prone to dryness. Extra effort should be taken in moisturizing aging skin. It’s also important to use sun protection, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol, and have a healthy diet and sleeping pattern.How can you help soothe dry and sensitive skin?

Ville Kiiski: Be kind to your skin.

-Use gentle skin care designed for sensitive skin. For skin cleansing, prefer mild soap-free cleansers.

-Avoid products with a high pH or that contain alcohol.

-Use moisturizers with good hydration capacity and barrier-strengthening properties. Look for ceramides, urea, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin.

-Prefer fragrance-free products.

-Avoid triggers of skin dryness.

-Remember sun protection.

-And of course, if you suspect an underlying skin condition, visit a dermatologist for evaluation.

Are people with sensitive skin more likely to suffer from dry skin?

Ville Kiiski: Yes, the sensitive skin is more prone to dryness. And especially the other way around: dry skin is sensitive skin.

How do you strengthen the skin barrier?

Ville Kiiski: Use moisturizers with good barrier-strengthening and hydration properties (containing ceramides, urea, hyaluronic acid, glycerin). Avoid any drying factors (harsh cleansers, excessive exfoliation/scrubbing, sun exposure and other environmental triggers). Once again, be gentle to your skin.

For people with atopic skin, I’d also suggest trying products that help to maintain a healthy skin microbiome – the normal amount and balance of beneficial microbes in the skin. Maintaining a healthy skin barrier helps to maintain the healthy microbiome.


Pictures by Juuli Rönkä

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