Dry skin is inevitable — whatever your skin type, you will occasionally find parts of your body breaking into sudden dry patches. While you would probably veer towards your regular moisturiser, it may just be a temporary solution. Dry, patchy and flaky skin is caused by a variety of reasons and requires specific treatments that includes using a special moisturiser to deal with the condition.
Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, consultant dermatologist, gives us the complete lowdown
As a practicing dermatologist, what does healthy skin mean to you?
A healthy skin should reflect a healthy look. Dryness, in particular, can make the skin look very dull. One of the most vital functions of the skin is regulating body temperature and it also helps us feel or touch. If there is any defect in what we call as the skin barrier, there will be consequences and one of the most common one is dryness of the skin. The drier the skin, the more it becomes cracked, and as a result prone to infections. Repairing the barrier is extremely important, and today, I am happy that we have Bepanthen, a product that addresses this. It is not just meant for those suffering from skin disease, but also for those who would love to maintain healthy skin. As we always say, hydrate in and hydrate out, Bepanthen plays this dual role, preventing any kind of defect to the skin barrier externally while working internally to prevent inflammation or itching. It can even replace the lipid layer that might be diminished due to an underlying disease, or a condition that could also be physiological. For example, with aging, we tend to lose the lipid layer, reason why older people are prone to dry skin. The same goes for diabetics, those suffering from thyroid disease, and in certain cases pregnant women. When we want healthy skin, we just cannot supplement with vitamins. Yes, you need to address any deficiencies, but you also have to take care of your skin.
What are the major beauty concerns affecting women in the UAE and how are you seeking to resolve them?
We live in a sunny climate, where skin pigmentation is common and sun protection is necessary. Some believe that sun protection or photoprotection is only for those with light skin. While those with a lighter skin are more prone to skin cancer, people with darker complexion also get pigmentation. For women aspiring for younger looking skin, your biggest enemy, even though it is important for vitamin D, is the sun. One of the myths, for those who are deficient in vitamin D, is to stay exposed to the sun. To get the essential vitamin we need many hours of exposure that could result in sunburn. If we weigh the risks versus the benefits, there are several alternatives to the sun that could aid in your vitamin D deficiency. The other issue affecting people here is eczema, which is hereditary, but also results in dry, itchy skin.
In your opinion, to what extent is the issue of dry skin affecting the quality of life of your patients?
I have patients coming to me because they cannot wear proper make-up due to flakiness. Excessive dryness of the skin can lead to eczema. In addition, those who are suffering from eczema have difficulties sleeping because of itchy skin. Lack of sleep affects children’s performance in school. Some of them are riddled with blood or yellow stains on clothes due to constant scratching, while some are not able to wear short sleeves because of the flaky or even fish like scales. There is also a condition known as ichthyosis, a genetic disease that is aggravated by dryness of the skin, especially in dry climates. Dry skin therefore definitely has a big impact on the quality of life and people’s self-esteem, irrespective of age or gender. This is why dealing with dryness in a proper way is extremely important.
What sets Bepanthen Derma Skin Care’s new range apart from other skincare brands in the UAE?
We have many great products in the market. However, choosing the right lubricant or right emollient is the job of dermatologists. We need to recommend the right moisturiser to address all the underlying issues for what the medical fraternity terms pathogenesis. The product needs to have an anti-inflammatory effect, and has to work from inside and out. It needs to have an anti-pruritic or anti-aging effect, even something replacing the natural lipids of the skin. Besides, it needs to be free from any fragrances or preservatives that may aggravate skin and finally, it has to be available at an affordable price.
While many moisturisers exist, I wish to recommend one that has anti-inflammatory, and also a little bit anti-infective properties. That to me is an ideal moisturiser and what differentiates this product from any new moisturiser.
Can you tell us more about your association with Bepanthen and Bayer?
I always speak for companies that operate in a fair, ethical way. As a dermatologist, I only recommend deserving products, something with a unique formula. What I like about these products is that they cover multiple functions when addressing an underlying disease. I am happy to be able to deliver the message in a scientific but simplified way to healthcare providers and even pharmacists. We are not just talking about patients, but also healthy individuals going to the pharmacy for a remedy for their concern. We want to prevent the disease from the beginning by raising awareness and by guiding them on what to use as a moisturiser, or a proper sunscreen.
Any tips or advice for healthy skin?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Use as much moisturiser as needed. There is no excuse for those who say they will not use moisturisers because it clogs the pores. We have many moisturisers that are non-comedogenic and will not clog the pores. Interestingly we even have light moisturisers for women that can be used as a base for their make-up.