Do you think you have dehydrated skin? Does your skin look dull and flaky, and do you want to do something to make it look shiny and smooth? Then you should think of increasing your water intake.
It is widely known that water plays an important role in improving human health, especially in terms of skin. Let’s understand the importance of water for skin conditions. In regard to normal physiology, the water content in the outermost layer of the skin acts as a water barrier. This barrier helps in holding and sealing moisture which is important for hydrated, refreshed, and healthy skin.1
What are the most common skin conditions?
There are various skin diseases that human beings suffer from, however, in this article, we will discuss the most common ones and their symptoms.
- ACNE: Acne is one of the mostcommon skin conditions which is famous for giving dry skin and pimples on the face, chest, back, shoulders, and forehead. Acne outbreaks can be due to hereditary issues, changing hormonal levels, anxiety, using oily products, and no moisturisers, and low water intake.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) the main symptoms of acne include different types of pimple spots which are as follows:
- Blackheads (black or yellow spots)
- Whiteheads (like blackheads but firm)
- Papules (tendered red spots)
- Pustules (pus-filled papules)
- Acne cysts and nodules (hard and large, painful acne breakouts).
- Atopic dermatitis (Eczema): Eczema is a skin condition which manifests as dry, scratchy, broken, and dehydrated skin. It is most common among children but can be observed in adults too. The aetiology behind this is complex however, some defects in skin functionality, environmental factors and immunity problems are considered some of the reasons behind the disease.2
Hallmarks of this skin condition are:
- Cracked and dry skin
- Itchiness over the area
- Rashes on swollen skin
- Bumps (red)
- Thickened and dark skin
- Oozing and scratchy skin.
- Psoriasis: This is a common skin disorder in which skin becomes flaky forming scales like texture. The NHS describes psoriasis as a skin infection which is very painful, and uncomfortable, may reduce concentration levels while working and can lead to difficulty sleeping. Common reasons for this condition are certain bacterial infections, cuts or burns, and some medications too.
- Red patches or skin rashes, covered with scales
- Itchy and painful skin which can break and bleed
- Crumbled nails or discolouration.
- Dry skin (especially on the scalp area)
- Skin irritation.
What happens to your skin when there is a lack of water intake?
As mentioned earlier skin conditions and hydration are interlinked to each other, but the question remains as to what happens to our skin when our fluid intake is reduced.Higher chance of flare-ups:
Water holds a major part of body composition (75% at birth and 60% in adults) and helps in maintaining normal functions of major organs in the body including our skin.1 Water aids our digestive system in removing toxic products from our body, consequently helping us to combat many skin infections like eczema and psoriasis. On the other hand, water also keeps our skin hydrated and refreshed. These benefits of staying hydrated outweigh being dehydrated since being dehydrated leads to dry skin and eventually worsening (flare-ups) our skin condition(s).
Flare-ups are very common in eczema because of their recurrent nature and it is commonly evident by the aggravation of symptoms in many patients. Thus, flare-ups in Atopic Dermatitis (AD) require long-term planning for intensive treatment.3
Loss of elasticity
Elasticity is the ability of the skin to change its shape when pulled up and return to normal when released. When there is a lack of water in skin composition (due to excess loss and dehydration) our skin becomes flaky, loose and wrinkled and does not return to its normal state after the skin pinch test. This phenomenon is called loss of elasticity.
Research states that the top layer of skin must consist of 20-30% water. In case of a water content less than 10-20% there are higher chances of getting dry skin, reduced elasticity, and increased roughness.4
It is essential to keep our skin hydrated by drinking enough water to improve our skin health and performance.
It is a known fact that any wound advances through various stages of the healing cycle and if any step is disrupted, wounds may take longer to heal. Water plays an important role in wound healing as it acts as a medium to transport oxygen and other nutrients to the wound site. Dehydration may reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the active site and as a consequence the healing process is slowed down. Furthermore, wounds taking too long to heal may lead to greater complications.
Many studies have found that the treatment of wounds in a wet/moist environment has been more successful, and quicker, and resulted in reduced scar formation as compared to the treatment in a dry environment. There is also a direct link identified between hydrated skin and less inflammation, resulting in lower injury progression.5
How much water is enough?
As we already comprehended the importance of hydration for our skin, it is now the time for implementation. How much water you need to be drinking depends on individual health needs, activity and other physiological factors. Here we will share the recommendations by some international organisations.
- In a 2010 report on Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it was recommended for the age group of 19 to 30 years old that people assigned male at birth should drink 3.7 litres of water per day whereas people assigned female at birth should have at least 2.7 litres of drinking water per day.1 This recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organisation,6 U.S. National Academy of Medicine and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as per U.S. National Center for Health Statistics report.7
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) directed that people assigned female at birth should have at least 2.0 litres of water a day while people assigned male at birth should take in at least 2.5 litres per day.6
- The NHS states that most humans need 1.5 to 2.5 litres of water per day. This is equal to six to eight cups a day. However, it is recommended to take in extra fluid when there is excessive sweating, a heavy workload, and while exercising in hot weather.8
There are some guidelines by NHS Inform Scot on how to stay hydrated. It is recommended for you to read and include these habits in your routine.
Overall, it is quite clear that a higher input of water in one’s regular diet might positively affect normal skin functionality and reduce the number of skin-related problems. It is essential to have a proper understanding of individual body requirements as per distinct physiological features so that there is no over or under-consumption of water and we can prevent dehydration and other skin conditions.
- Palma L, Marques LT, Bujan J, Rodrigues LM. Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics [Internet]. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology. Dove Medical Press; 2015 [cited 2022Oct27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263/
- Kapur S, Watson W, Carr S. Atopic dermatitis [Internet]. Allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology : official journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. BioMed Central; 2018 [cited 2022Oct27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6157251/
- Girolomoni G, Busà VM. Flare management in atopic dermatitis: From definition to treatment [Internet]. Therapeutic advances in chronic disease. SAGE Publications; 2022 [cited 2022Oct27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8771745/
- Williams S, Krueger N, Davids M, Kraus D, Kerscher M. Effect of fluid intake on skin physiology: Distinct differences between drinking mineral water and Tap Water. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2007;29(2):131–8.
- Junker JPE, Kamel RA, Caterson EJ, Eriksson E. Clinical impact upon wound healing and inflammation in moist, wet, and Dry Environments [Internet]. Advances in wound care. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; 2013 [cited 2022Oct27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842869/
- Masot O, Miranda J, Santamaría AL, Paraiso Pueyo E, Pascual A, Botigué T. Fluid intake recommendation considering the physiological adaptations of adults over 65 years: A critical review [Internet]. Nutrients. MDPI; 2020 [cited 2022Oct27]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7694182/
- Products - data briefs - number 242 - april 2016 [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db242.htm
- Healthy hydration [Internet]. Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust. [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.kentcht.nhs.uk/leaflet/healthy-hydration/