Jan. 28, 2012 -- Cool weather might make for better hair days--no more humidity frizz!--but for some, late fall and winter also mean the return of uncomfortably dry skin (not to mention those embarrassing telltale flakes).
But for those who suffer from eczema, a disease characterized by severely dry, itchy, flaky skin accompanied by inflammation and redness, good news may be right around the corner.
Scientists have found that a strain of yeast implicated in inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema, can be killed by certain peptides and could potentially provide a new treatment for these debilitating skin conditions, according to the Journal of Applied Microbiology, Letters in Applied Microbiology.
Researchers looked at the effect of the yeast on 21 different peptides and found that six of the peptides successfully killed the yeast without killing human skin cells.
"Many questions remain to be solved before these peptides can be used in humans," said Tina Holm, one of the study's researchers. "We hope that these peptides in the future can be used to ease the symptoms of patients suffering from atopic eczema and significantly increase their quality of life."
Why is your skin so much drier in the winter months?
The main culprits are cold air, low humidity, and central heating, which makes already dry air even drier. The result: Your skin becomes rough, flaky, and itchy, and any existing problems, like eczema, are exacerbated.
To keep your skin smooth this season, here are some natural remedies that will ease your eczema flare-ups, and will also soothe less severe bouts of dry skin.
Packed with antioxidants that can reduce the inflammation associated with eczema, olive oil is the basis for many moisturizers; when used alone, it lacks chemical irritants you may find in store-bought creams. As a bonus, olive oil's antioxidants help prevent and repair damage that can lead to wrinkles and brown spots.
Although oatmeal is a centuries-old skin soother, researchers only recently recognized the avenanthramides in oats as the key compounds that calm inflamed, itchy skin. Put whole oats in a clean, dry sock. Seal the open end with a rubber band, and then drop the sock into a warm or hot bath. Soak yourself for 15 to 20 minutes.
"I advise patients to look for bland moisturizers that don't have a lot of fragrance, color, or additives that could irritate skin," says Kristin Leiferman, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.
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