How to Manage Dry Skin on the Road

Is dry, itchy, cracked skin a common theme on your road trips, or when you go back to visit your family? Understand what’s happening and be proactive about prevention so that you can leave dry, cracked skin out of your vacation.

Dry skin and eczema are extremely common, and for these people, it’s a daily struggle to keep their skin adequately moisturized. For those who have an oilier skin type, this is rarely a problem. People with eczema or just a dry skin type are often well prepared for this, but if you typically don’t suffer from dry skin, you might be caught off guard. Just a bit of preparation and knowledge can go a long way to making the best of your vacation.

Step 1: Understand what’s happening

Dry skin is a very common complaint among travellers, and you might wonder why. You might notice that the same people always complain of dry skin so it’s often assumed that it’s purely genetic, but dry skin is actually the result of both genetic and environmental factors and nobody is completely immune from developing dry skin. A sudden change in environment like going on vacation can affect your skin in many ways:

  • Recirculated air on flights draw away moisture from the skin rapidly. Long flights can easily drain moisture away from the skin. The typical cabin is around 12 percent humidity, comparable to a desert.
  • Colder temperatures and lower humidity both contribute to dry skin. If you are travelling somewhere colder or more arid, this will impact your skin.
  • Hard water (with many minerals) can also make the skin drier indirectly. As the minerals make soap and other cleansing products lather less efficiently, you may be using more of the product than usual.
  • Often people forget to drink sufficient liquids while travelling as their typical routines are broken. While drinking more water than normal won’t help moisturize the skin, drinking too little will certainly make your skin dry.
  • Alcohol and travelling often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, alcohol also goes hand in hand with dehydration and it will show on your skin (liver, and face as well).

Step 2: Preventative Measures

Often we associate genetic with uncontrollable and environmental as controllable. As it turns out, this distinction is often merely theoretical. If you are flying to your destination for example, there isn’t much you can do about the cabin environment, and similarly we rarely have much control over temperature or humidity levels. What we can be aware of and modify is our behavior.

  • Moisturize. Have a travel size moisturizer at the ready, and use them often. Understand that you’re changing routines, habits, and climate, likely to one that is harsh for your skin, so even if you don’t need moisturizers normally, have one with you.
  • If you are on a long flight, moisturize, then apply a sunscreen. The cabin is extremely dry and you will be exposed to strong sunlight due to altitude.
  • Drink plenty of water and skip out on the in flight alcohol. Due to the physiological changes that occur in the air cabin, you won’t be able to enjoy it anyways.
  • Be on the guard for signs of dehydration. It is very common for travellers to find themselves dehydrated on flight.
  • Micellar water may help keep the skin hydrated. They can be carried in a travel size bottle.
  • Once you get off, ensure that you are dressed appropriately for the new climate. A bit of preparation can be the difference between a great time and great misery.

Step 3: Prevention at the Vacation Site

If you are vacationing in the Amazon, you don’t need to worry about dry skin. On the other hand, if you’re going back to see family in Edmonton for Thanksgiving, you need to prepare properly for a full scale assault on your skin.

  • Dress appropriately. In cold and arid climates, it’s important to have your skin covered in long sleeves. It’s these simple things that often present a stumbling block.
  • Moisturize. Even if you’re not a regular moisturizer (you probably don’t suffer from dry skin), it’s good to have backup ready.
  • Drink water. During vacations, daily routines (like the tea you have with co-workers) are disrupted, and it’s very easy to forget to drink as much as you need while you’re engaged in various activities.
  • Whether you’re staying at a hotel on a business trip or your cousin’s house, proper bathing habits will help protect your skin. Keep water temperature as low as possible without being uncomfortable, and limit the bathing/showering time. Hot water and long exposure sap the oils from your skin, causing dryness.
  • Remember to moisturize immediately after showering/bathing. Pat, don’t rub the skin dry, and moisturize while the skin is still moist.