One particular problem in long standing Raynaud's can be dryness and cracking of the skin. Sometimes ulcers may develop, especially on the fingers and toes. Dryness and irritation of the skin on the rest of the body can also occur, particularly with scleroderma.
WHAT IS DRY SKIN?
Normal skin contains a high percentage of moisture (water), which is prevented from evaporation and drying out by a film of oil over the surface of the skin. Dry skin usually results from a failure to produce adequate levels of oil. This can be exaggerated by frequent washing which removes the oil. Care should be taken when using detergents and soap as they have a degreasing effect on the skin.
REPLENISHING SURFACE OILS
This can be achieved by adding an emollient to the bath or applying directly to the skin either when it is wet or dry. Bath emollients are emulsions of oil in water, which can be added to the bath. Care should be taken when getting out of the bath as emollient can make the bath slippery. Use a non-scratch bath cleanser to remove the oil film. During the day, creams or ointments should be used to replenish natural oil and help keep the skin more supple, preventing drying out and cracking. Creams are cosmetically more acceptable but their moisturising effect tends to be short lived. Simple petroleum jelly is effective and can be thinned down by mixing it in a tub placed in a basin of hot water and mixing in an equal amount of liquid paraffin.
REHYDRATING THE SKIN
There are two ways of accomplishing rehydration. The first is to take a bath containing an emollient bath oil and sit in it for twenty minutes. The second is to use moisturising creams. Creams which contain lactic acid, urea or lanolin are most effective. A small number of people are sensitive to lanolin but this is quite rare.