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See How to Treat Ashy Skin Effectively and Find Ways to Prevent It

How to Treat Ashy Skin Effectively
Ashy skin is simply an alternative term for a very dry skin. Drying of skin is a very common occurrence and can easily be treated. This post provides you with various ways to treat this condition effectively.
Komal B. Patil
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017
Did You Know?
The human body sheds around 30,000 dead skin cells per minute.
Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and accounts for 15% of a person's body weight. It is the protective layer that defends the body against the effects of sun, wind, pollution, and cold weather. Sometimes this can cause the skin to become very dry and itchy, and lead to accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin. This condition is called "ashy skin".

It is called ashy skin due to the chalky and flaky appearance of dry skin. It is more noticeable on darker skin tones than lighter tones. Dry skin is the most common skin problem, and almost everyone faces it. While it is not a dangerous affliction, the accompanying itching can be bothersome, and excessive scratching could lead to skin breaks that could let in microbes. Also continued dryness of the skin causes the skin to age prematurely.
Causes of Ashy Skin
Cold Weather
Young girl in winter time
Cold temperatures cause a decrease in the humidity levels, causing dry air. When this dry air comes in contact with the skin, absorbs the moisture from it, leaving behind dry and parched skin. In addition to this, indoor heating systems that are used to stay warm also produce dry air that strips the skin's moisture away.
Hot Showers
Young woman taking shower
While showering with hot water can be very relaxing, it causes the loss of essential oils and the lipid layer of the skin, that is responsible for retaining moisture. Hence, this leads to the drying of the skin.
Excessive Scrubbing
Woman scrubbing herself
Scrubbing is a good way to get rid of all the dirt and debris accumulated on the skin, however, overdoing it causes more harm than good. The friction generated between the scrubber and the skin strips away the layers of the skin and enhances dryness.
Anything that irritates the skin can lead to itching and dryness of the skin. The irritation maybe caused due to harsh fabrics, strong fabric softener and detergents, etc. Any chemicals that are alcohol based (e.g. perfume, sanitize) also dry out the skin.
Hormonal changes related to aging causes the skin to lose its elasticity and become thin. This allows the skin to be easily parched.
Health Concerns
Tormented woman
Excessive stress can cause skin problems. Also decline in health or the onset of diseases could cause skin dryness. It could be due to a skin condition like psoriasis or dermatitis, or it could be due to diabetes or the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.
Treating Ashy Skin
Skin care
The affected dry area of the skin should be moisturized regularly and consistently. Once a week application of moisturizer do not help. To remember to moisturize, keep the lotion/cream in an easily accessible place that is within the line-of-sight.
Seal Moisture
Woman applying creme on face
Bathing leaves the skin moist, but this moisture is soon lost when the water dries off. To seal in the moisture, pat off the excess water and then apply the moisturizer while the skin is still damp. Once this is done, allow the skin to dry naturally, and do not towel dry. If the skin still feels dry, apply another layer of the lotion, and allow it to be soaked in.
Skin-specific Products
Girl while shopping
Choose skin products that are suitable for your skin type and the changes in the weather. Use a light moisturizer during the summer and a heavy moisturizer during the winter. It is an added advantage if you use one with SPF. Other facial products that may be used should be gentle and mild in nature, and odor-free products should be preferred.
Woman relaxing in wooden sauna room
It helps to get rid of the accumulated dead skin cells and to smoothen the skin. Care should be taken to exfoliate gently with a non-abrasive tool like exfoliating gloves or a dry skin brush. One should also remember to always moisturize the skin after exfoliating.
Treat Itchiness
In case of itchy skin, relieve the itchiness by means of a moisturizer, an anti-itch lotion, or a hydro cortisone ointment. Refrain from scratching the skin as this will only cause more irritation and dryness, and can also cause skin damage.
Intake of Fluids
Woman drinking water
Drinking a lot of water and other fluids helps in keeping the body hydrated. The water helps to flush out and excrete the toxins in the body, and it also functions to supply nutrients to all the cells. This in turn helps the skin cells stay nourished and hydrated, thus preventing the skin from drying.
Eating Healthy
Woman eating healthier fruits
Eating healthy and well-balanced meals provides the body with essential nourishment. Vegetables and fruits provide various vitamins and minerals, and those with a high water content are good for hydration. Dietary supplements can also be consumed to increase the intake of necessary nutrients.
Dietary Alterations
Consumption of natural healthy fats is encouraged, as they help in increasing the blood flow. This leads to better delivery of nutrients to the cells of the body. These fats can be found in olives, peanut butter, avocados, salmon, walnuts, etc. In addition to this, intake of salty and fried foods should be decreased considerably. These foods dehydrate the body and also lead to other health concerns.
Lifestyle Choices
Gesture for quit smoking
Smoking and drinking alcohol should be stopped. Smoking leads to clogged skin pores, and these lead to formation of acne, blackheads and warts. Also, smoking reduces the lung capacity and hampers breathing, thereby affecting the circulation of blood and depriving the cells of vital oxygen. It also causes the body to lose vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin. Similarly, alcohol dehydrates the body, and decreases the body's ability to absorb fluids. This causes a loss of water, minerals, and electrolytes, eventually leading to dry, patchy skin.
Preventive Measures
Bathing (soap)
Avoid long and hot showers. Warm or lukewarm water should be used instead and bathing should take 10 minutes or less. The cooler the temperature of the water, the lesser the skin dries. Also, bubble baths and soap based soaking should be avoided. For everyday purposes, use mild and moisturizing soaps. While drying yourself after bathing, pat the water off instead of scrubbing yourself dry.

Use and apply moisturizer all year round to prevent the occurrence of dry skin. Creams that are used should be fragrance-free and devoid of lanolin (dehydrates skin). Use products that contain glycerin or hyaluronic acid, as they are good hydrating agents.

The sun's rays can cause burns and wrinkles on sensitive areas of the skin. Application of sunscreen lotions help protect the skin from drying out due to exposure to the sun.

Use of Humidifier
Dry air strips the skins moisture away. To overcome this, humidifiers should be used. A simple version is that of keeping a bowl of water near the radiator in your room. One could also use a natural plant humidifier like a Boston palm or a fern.

Covering Up
In cold weather, to avoid coming in contact with the cold, dry air, skin should be covered up as much as possible. This can be done by wearing full-length pants, shirts with long sleeves, and thick gloves and socks. In summer, hats can be worn to protect oneself from the sun's rays.

Avoid Abrasives
While exfoliating, avoid the use of strong abrasives like pumice stones and stiff brushes. Instead use a gentle washcloth or a soft-bristled brush.

Reduce Stress
Skin problems are often aggravated by a person's mental health. If one is stressed, there is a increased likelihood of the occurrence of skin-related problems. Hence one should indulge in stress-relieving and relaxing exercises and activities.
Home Remedies
Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly
It is a very good hydrating agent. When applied, it forms a barrier that seals in the moisture. It is also an incredibly cheap option. The best method of application would be to apply it at night over a layer of your usual moisturizer and then covering the skin with a cotton garment, to promote absorption.
Avocado spread Avocado pasta
The creamy flesh of this fruit can be mixed with honey to prepare a creamy paste that can be applied on the skin. Wash the paste off after 10 minutes with cold water and pat the skin dry.
It can be used to make a rejuvenating skin mask. All one needs to do is to mash up a banana and apply it to the skin. Rinse it off after 5-10 minutes with lukewarm water. Honey or milk can also be added if desired.
Milk has been used as an hydrating agent since ancient times. It can be applied on the skin directly and slightly massaged. Its high fat content acts as a moisturizer, while the lactic acid in it cleans the skin.
This works best for dry skin. It should be mixed with a little lemon juice and honey, and then applied to the desired area for 10 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Sugar Scrub
Sugar Scrub
To exfoliate and moisturize at the same time, make a sugar scrub using olive oil and sugar crystals, and use it to scrub the skin. The sugar crystals will exfoliate, while the oil will hydrate the skin. Honey can also be added.
Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera
It is famous for its skin-hydrating and cleansing properties. Simply rub the sap from an aloe Vera leaf onto the skin, allow it to dry, and then wash it off with warm water.
Coconut oil
Oils are natural hydrating moisturizers. One can use coconut, almond, or even olive oil.
Ice Cube
Ice cubes
Rubbing an ice cube over the skin helps to hydrate the skin from the water melting off the cube, and also the coldness of the ice helps in enhancing the blood circulation of that area.
Another natural hydrating agent - glycerin, chases away dryness when applied directly to skin for 20 minutes and then rinsed off with warm water.
Eczema moisturizers and soaps are also very effective in overcoming skin dryness. However, if the problem of ashy skin still persists, despite all your efforts, it is best to consult a dermatologist, who can treat you to get rid of dry skin.