Dehydration is a common problem that many people don’t realize they’re dealing with. This can be especially true in the colder months of the year. When it’s hot out, the heat triggers our thirst mechanism and makes it easier to remember that it’s time to drink some water. We tend to feel less thirsty when it’s cool and that can lead to further dehydration. Acute dehydration can manifest itself in fainting spells, dizziness, fogginess and more. More chronic dehydration, however, can be harder to detect; unless you pay attention to your skin, that is.
Dehydrated skin and dry skin are not the same thing, however, and it’s important to make clear distinctions. Dry skin is a skin type, just like oily, regular, combination, etc. Dry skin is caused by your body not producing enough of the natural oils your skin needs. If you have a dry skin type, this is just your bodies idea of “normal” and you will need to use skincare products or adjust your regimen to make up for this lack of oils. Dry skin can certainly be made worse by dehydration, but they are not the same thing.
Dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of water in the skin cells. This is more common in the winter months, but can happen at any point throughout the year. Because it’s a temporary condition and not your bodies idea of “normal”, it is treatable much more easily. Dehydrated skin is seen as an “inconvenience” by most people, but it can be an indicator of chronic dehydration, which can be detrimental to your overall health.
Not sure if your skin is showing signs of dehydration? Here are a few common signs:
- “Face dandruff”: When you think of dandruff, you think of itchy flaky skin on your scalp, often leaving evidence behind stuck in your hair. Itching and flaking are two of the most common signs of dry skin on your face as well. This can be an all-over issue, but is often most noticeable near and in the eyebrows. Flakes stick in eyebrow hair, making them stand out – especially if your hair is darker. Ladies may find themselves having to exfoliate or pick away flaking skin before applying eyebrow makeup.
- Dull look overall: In a perfect world, your skin should be dewey, bright and clear, but that’s not always the case. If your skin has looked dull, ashen, or more “grey” than usual then you are probably dealing with hydration problems.
- Skin feels tight: You know what your skin normally feels like, and you know that uncomfortable almost pulling sensation if skin that’s too taught. This is a sign I consider to be one of the signifiers of long term dehydration and it ought to be paid careful attention to, especially since it can easily lead to sign number 4.
- Cracking: Skin cracking is not only unsightly and incredibly painful, it’s also quite dangerous. Your skin is your bodies first line of defense against illness and infection. It works by keeping germs and infectious particles on the outside of your body. Breaks in the skin are weak spots, points where infection can get in. Cracks and breaks in the face are especially prone to infection since people touch their faces so much, transferring whatever germs are on their hands into the openings. You probably wash your hands after you use the restroom, but how many of you sanitize after touching your computer, phone, remote control, doorknob etc? Those areas harbor more bacteria than your common bathroom does, but we don’t think twice about changing the channel and then rubbing our eyes or popping a snack in our mouths.
Dehydrated skin and overall chronic dehydration, don’t have to be major issues. As I said before, it’s treated pretty easily. Increase the amount of water you’re drinking. You should be consuming AT LEAST 64 oz of water a day. You’ll notice I said “water”, not “liquid”. Juice, soda, coffee, tea etc all dehydrate you. Water is what your body needs. On top of drinking at least 64 oz, it’s important to eat foods with high water content like watermelon, celery, etc. That’s it! Most cases of this type of chronic dehydration won’t require any medications, but you may want to ask about proper hydration for your individual lifestyle at your next visit.