Sponsored Content, By Dr. Robert Harla
It’s important to think about total body hydration, of which skin hydration is a large component. A lot of the time, we take our skin for granted and only care for it when something happens, like cuts, infections, color changes, wrinkles and more.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and it is our “spacesuit” that protects us from the outside world. It helps give us shape, regulates temperature and protects us from damaging radiation.
Water makes up about 60 percent of our body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some tissues, like the brain, are 95 percent water. We have sensible water loss (urine) and insensible water loss, which is harder to document. It is made up of water vapor from the respiratory tract, the skin (sweat and evaporation) and the digestive tract. Other factors include medications, diet, exercise, stress and environmental temperature.
How much water is enough? For years, we have heard we need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Most people don’t even get that much. More recent calculations based on body and other factors specify significantly more. The Mayo Clinic recommends 11 and a half glasses of water daily for women and 15 and a half for men. An easy calculation: Weight divided by 2 is the number of ounces needed per day.
We can also contribute by eating water-rich foods in our diets. There are numerous water-drinking apps available for your smartphone. In order to hydrate our skin, we need to hydrate our bodies. When we are under stress from any cause, our bodies conserve resources to heart, lungs, brain and digestive system, and send fewer resources to the skin, hair and nails.
How do we hydrate the skin? Most importantly, we do so through our water intake. Secondarily, we do so through topical application of products containing hyaluronic acid. This compound utilizes osmosis to “pull” water or vapor into the skin from the environment. The whole body needs to betreated in order for this to make a significant difference in the balance ofskin hydration.
Skin hydration refers to adding water to the skin, whereas moisturizing refers to adding oil to the skin. It is important to know the difference and know what is in the products you purchase. By far, the most contributing factor to skin hydration is having a positive water balance in the system.
Our skin is constantly being replaced. The cells start off in the basal layer, where they are young and have a normal complement of water. As cells age and migrate up to the surface, they lose water content through non- replacement and evaporation. As they reach the surface, they are far removed from the blood supply, they die and are dried out. Over time, they are shed as we wash and wear clothes. This process takes four to six weeks.
Keeping your skin properly hydrated can:
• slow the effects of the aging process. Nothing can change that, but proper hydration can help maintain the skin’s elasticity, and by keeping more water within the cells for a longer period of time, fine lines are less prominent.
• improve the color and appearance of the skin, especially in sun-exposed areas. Decreased water contact can lead todry, flaky skin, which leads to the fine linesbecoming more prominent and visible.
• help tonal changes by promoting cell turnover without the buildup of dry, older cells.
As the skin cells die and lose water content as they migrate up from the basal layer, they can’t rid themselves of the products of metabolism. Then, without adequate hydration, cell turnover is decreased and the toxins can result in irritation and inflammation.
When the skin cells become dehydrated, feedback loops signal the oil glands to produce more to help prevent or slow evaporation. Increased oil content leads to the potential for increased acne. The bacteria on the skin use the oil for a food source.
A positive water balance helps the entire person and has many beneficial effects for the skin. As we age, our oil glands shrink in size and produce less. They help prevent water loss. Dehydration of the skin leads to a “thinning” of the skin, which can lead to easier skin trauma and bruising.
Tru-Skin Dermatology was founded on the principles of healthy skin. Our mission is the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. Learn more on our website.