You may have heard the term "ashy skin," and wondered what it meant. Ashy skin is simply dry skin. It is usually whitish or grayish in color. It gives the skin a dull, chalky or flaky appearance. the term is often used in reference to African Americans or those with dark complexions. Anyone, however, can have ashy skin, it just isn’t as noticeable on lighter skin.
Ashy skin is dry skin cells that remain on the surface of your skin. It is most commonly found on elbows, knees, arms, lower legs and heels. It is not dangerous but some people find it embarrassing. Because skin tends to dry out in the winter, ashy skin may be more noticeable in the colder months.
Preventing Ashy Skin
Exfoliating your skin is the first step to preventing or getting rid of ashy skin. Use an exfoliating scrub specifically made for your body (don’t use this same one on your face as it is likely to be too harsh). Some exfoliating products have moisturizers built in to give you the added benefit of moisturizing your skin at the same time.
If you have ashy skin, you want to begin with exfoliating your entire body. Before you apply the exfoliating cleanser, dampen a small area of your body and then apply the scrub. Leave it on for a couple minutes, then rinse off.
There are several other steps you can take to reduce the ashiness of your skin:
- Take shorter showers and baths, using warm water rather than hot water.
- Use a gentle cleanser or moisturizing body gel
- Apply moisturizer to damp skin when you finish your shower or bath
- Use a humidifier indoors during the winter months (or year round if you live in a dry climate)
- Be sure you keep your skin covered and protected when outdoors in the cold winter months, especially on windy days.
Maintaining Healthy Skin
Pay attention to how your body reacts to different lotions. If your ashy skin doesn’t seem to be going away or if it worsens, try a different moisturizing lotion. In the winter, you can use heavier creams, natural oils or butters. Look for lotions that heal dry skin. You may need to try a few different moisturizing lotions before you find one that works best for you.
Drink plenty of water. Your skin is moisturized from the inside as well as the outside. Staying hydrated helps your skin retain moisture and look healthy.
Continue to exfoliate on a weekly basis. Don’t wait until your skin starts looking dry to exfoliate. Make it a part of your weekly (or biweekly) routine. Besides appearance reasons, exfoliating rids your body of dry skin cells, which makes it easy for your skin to absorb moisturizing lotions and creams.
Use a shaving cream or gel when shaving. Razors can irritate dry skin and remove essential oils, making your skin drier. Be sure to use moisturizer after shaving. Change your razor or blades after about 5 to 10 shaves.
"Dry SKin: Tips for Relieving," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, American Academy of Dermatology
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.