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Skin expert Dr Reena on the power of your mind

Between putting together the right routine and tracking down triggers: living with psoriasis, eczema or very dry skin has its challenges. We’ve got your dry skin care routine down, and senior clinical psychologist Dr Reena Shah is here to help trace your triggers. A specialist in the link between mind and skin, Dr Reena explains why and how – to treat dry skin – your wellbeing is just as important as what’s on your bathroom shelf.  

The skin-mind connection.

“It’s all linked,” says Dr Reena, “anxiety, depression, stress. All different types of mental health problems have a huge impact on skin, and vice versa.” It’s a vicious cycle – part biological, part psychological. When you’re stressed, your body’s 'stress axis' is activated and releases the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol. “High levels of this hormone in your body can trigger flare-ups,” Dr Reena explains. “The psychological part of the cycle is then introduced – as well as increasing worry, the flare-up can exacerbate psychological difficulty like anxiety or depression."

Do a bit of detective work.

If you think your flare-ups are caused by your emotions or stress, keep a diary of what you’re up to and when you see very dry, scaly skin. “Record what’s happening,” says Dr Reena, “ask yourself if anything has changed – such as difficulties or stress at work or difficulties in a relationship. You’re looking for patterns.”

The next step.

When living with emotion-related triggers, go beyond your dry skin care routine and look into booking a medical assessment. Psychologists offer specific therapy to help with scratching, too. “Emotional scratching is when you scratch, even if you don’t have an itch,” Dr Reena says. “And habitual scratching is when you’ve been scratching for so long, that when you feel itchy you automatically scratch.” If you think you’re in the second camp, try Dove DermaSeries eczema relief body lotion; specially formulated to help relieve very dry and itchy, flaky skin.

It’s possible to manage your emotional triggers.

“When you’re anxious or stressed,” explains Dr Reena, “your heart races so fast that the quickest way to bring it down is to control your breathing. If you can do that, you’ll relieve stress and help reduce the flare-up.” Curl up with a book or take a relaxing shower with our Dove DermaSeries body wash: good for eczema and psoriasis-prone skin, while it works to nourish very dry, scaly skin. For more relaxation ideas, Dr Reena recommends the Calm or Headspace apps, and of course, general self-care: “Balancing your week is also important. It sounds simple but try and make time for yourself.”

Put the enjoyment back into your routine.

“You’ve got to find the cream for you,” says Dr Reena, “then try to work out a comfortable, therapeutic way to add it to your routine.” You might normally find a body lotion for very dry skin can feel sticky or heavy to use, but the Dove DermaSeries collection has creamy formulas designed to put the beauty back into your routine. Even our rich Dove DermaSeries expert repairing balm has a silky, fast-absorbing formula that instantly melts into your skin.

To download the Headspace or Calm App, visit Apple’s App Store on iPhone or Google Play’s App store for Android.

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