What is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is a condition that causes skin dryness due to dehydration in the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). The epidermis contains lipids (fats) and proteins. The lipids prevent the epidermis from drying out. However, when there are not enough fatty oils in the skin, it loses moisture and is prone to damage due to the lack of protection. The rash usually follows dry skin and requires adequate treatment.
It is a very common and uncomfortable condition that can also lead to forming fine lines and wrinkles.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Causes of dry skin can be classified into two main groups:
- Internal Factors – Include factors such as age, health, genetics, family and personal history of eczema. For example, people with thyroid disease have an increased risk of developing dry skin.
- External Factors – Are the most frequent causes of dry skin. These factors are usually easy to treat and they are:
- Low Humidity – Low humidity during winter can cause dry skin. The hydration level in stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) depends on the humidity. Low humidity has a drying effect on the stratum corneum which makes our skin dry as well. The humidity level is determined by natural environmental factors (weather) and indoor environmental factors.
- Cold Temperatures – They reduce the skin’s temperature that leads to decreased production of oil during the winter, and eventually the skin starts to dry out.
- Harsh Soaps – Eliminate the skin’s natural moisturizers and can cause the drying effect.
- Sanitizers that Contain Alcohol – Using sanitizers which contain a higher percentage of alcohol to clean the skin on your face can induce the appearance of dry skin due to rapid evaporation. Alcohol in these products has the role of an antimicrobial agent which leaves a slimy residue after evaporation.
- Hot Showers – Can cause dry skin by evaporation of the water. Also, hot water eliminates oils from the skin which leads to a drying effect.
- Moisturizers – Even though moisturizers are supposed to hydrate and nourish the skin, they can have the opposite effect if you use an inadequate product.
- Clothes – Wool and synthetic materials can irritate your skin and affect the drying process.
- Medication – Acne, allergies, cholesterol, or blood pressure medicines can cause the drying effect.
What are Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin?
The Symptoms Of Dry Skin Include:
- Scaly Skin – Is the loss of stratum corneum.
- Rough Skin – Is a result of improper miniaturization where dead skin cells are building up on the skin’s surface making it rough.
- Flaky Skin – Occurs when the skin is unable to produce its grease and moisturize itself. Flaky skin is often the result of soaps, hot showers, etc.
- Itching – Is the most frequent symptom of dry skin. The medical term is “Pruritus” and it is usually the result of environmental factors like cold weather and air conditioning.
- Grey and Ashy Skin – Occurs in people with a darker skin tone.
- Cracked Skin – Is usually accompanied by other symptoms of dry skin, for example dryness is followed by scaling, and scaling can lead to the skin being itchy and scratching. Scratching can induce inflammation that results in tears in the skin that later develop into cracks.
- Chapped Lips – Also known as Cheilitis Simplex. This condition can be painful, and it usually occurs during the winter.
- Red Patches – Are the result of changed texture of the skin.
These symptoms typically can cause the person to scratch constantly. However, this scratching can have negative effects and cause the skin to become thicker. When the skin is cracked, germs can enter into the deeper layers and cause infection.
How is Dry Skin Diagnosed?
Dry skin is easy to diagnose. The symptoms are obvious and visible. Also, dermatologists can diagnose the condition by inspecting the patient’s skin. While examining the skin, dermatologists usually ask informative questions like “When did you notice changes in your skin?” Providing detailed answers will help your doctor make the right diagnosis. Additional tests may be required if the doctor assumes that you are experiencing a health problem that is causing the dry skin.
Also, a skin biopsy is another way of confirming this diagnosis and coming up with the proper treatment.
Dry skin is common in elderly people, but individuals who are exposed to chemicals and detergents are prone to developing this condition as well.
What is the Treatment for Dry Skin?
Dry skin can be treated in several different ways. It is always a good idea to consult your dermatologist prior dry skin treatment. Some treatments for dry skin include:
- Moisturizer – However, make sure the moisturizer you purchase is designed for dry skin. Products for other skin types can only make things worse. When you purchase the appropriate moisturizer for your dry skin makes sure, you apply it two or three times throughout the day. Moisturizers have a soothing effect; your skin will be smoother, and it will not crack. It is usually recommended to buy moisturizer which contains either urea or lactic acid because these ingredients are able to retain water in the skin’s layers. However, if you have eczema or cracked skin these products can cause stinging.
- Medicine – In cases when moisturizer doesn’t work on its own, your dermatologist may prescribe medication to treat your dry skin. These medicines can be creams that contain corticosteroids or immune modulators, and they are able to reduce itching, swelling and red patches. Along with the regular use of the medicines, your dermatologist may suggest the use of a moisturizer as well. If the itching doesn’t stop, you should consult a doctor about using an oral medication (hydroxyzine or diphenhydramine).
Dry Skin be Prevention Tips
You can prevent dry skin by introducing some changes to your lifestyle. For example:
- Avoid Hot Showers – hot and steamy showers can seem nice from time to time, but have a negative effect on your skin. In order to prevent the drying effect, you should take warm showers instead. If you have the tendency to take long showers, then dermatologists suggest limiting the duration of your shower to 5 to 10 minutes.
- Moisturize – regular moisturizing is needed to maintain healthy skin.
- Use a Humidifier – is used to add moisture into the air in your home and prevent the drying effect.
- Choose your Clothes Wisely – when you’re purchasing new clothes keep in mind that some materials like wool and synthetic clothes can make your skin to dry out faster. Purchase clothes made of cotton and silk that allows your skin to breathe. Also, when you are buying winter clothes make sure turtlenecks’ collars aren’t high enough to prevent contact with the skin near your face in order to avoid irritation.
Dos for Dry Skin
- Do Wash your Face However, it should be washed gently. When you’re done, instead of wiping the water off your face, take a clean towel and pat dry.
- Do Choose Gentle Soaps Harsh soaps contain a higher Alkaline content with a pH value is over 7. According to dermatologists, the best soaps for dry skin are Dove and Neutrogena bars.
- Do Use Makeup Be wise when purchasing it. Avoid powdered foundations and use tinted moisturizers that will nourish the skin on your face while enhancing your skin tone at the same time.
- Do Drink a Lot of Water – Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. If you want to prevent skin from drying make sure you hydrate regularly.
- Do use a Concealer with Moisturizing Effect Apply it before the foundation.
Don’t’s for Dry Skin
- DON’T Wash Your Face More Than Once. People with dry skin usually wash their face constantly in order to hydrate it. However, that is a mistake and can make skin even drier.
- DON’T Take Hot Showers (for the reasons that were explained above).
- DON’T Expose Your Skin To Uv Rays During Summer. Spending time out during the summer is fun, and we spend the entire winter on waiting for warm days, but the sun’s radiation is harmful. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect your face.
- DON’T Use Body Moisturizer On Your Face. When you are dealing with dry skin, you should have separate moisturizers for your body and your face. Body lotions include ingredients that are beneficial for your body, but they can often harm the delicate skin on your face.
- DON’T Use Matte Lipsticks If You Have Dry Skin That Immediately Dries Out Your Lips. . Use a lip balm to speed up the recovery process.
- DON’T Buy Fragrance Products. Fragrances can irritate your skin and only make things worse. When buying creams, lotions, etc. always make sure they are fragrance-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does Dry Skin Cause The Winter Itch?
Dry skin usually causes Winter itch. Low humidity and cold temperatures can have a bad impact on already damaged dry skin during winter. The symptoms of dry skin are more expressed during winter and that is why some people refer to it as the winter itch.
2. Do Genetics Play a Role In Dry Skin?
Dry skin can be caused by genetics. The condition is called ichthyosis, and it includes about 28 genetic skin disorders, for example, Ichthyosis Vulgaris (extreme dry skin). Also, dry skin can be the result of eczema, and some types of this condition run in the families.
3. What Medical Conditions Cause Dry Skin?
Medical conditions that cause dry skin include thyroid disorders, bulimia, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, eczema, allergy, kidney failure, hypothyroidism,
4. Do Any Medications Cause Dry Skin?
Yes. Medications can cause dry skin, for example medications for high blood pressure (diuretics), medications for cholesterol, antihistamines for allergies, and retinoids for treatment of acne.
5. Most Cases Of Dry Skin Are Caused By Disease Or Infection?
Even though dry skin in some people is result of an infections or disease, in most cases dry skin is caused by external factors (weather, temperature, humidity, hot showers).
6. What Is The Medical Term For Dry Skin?
The medical term for dry skin derives from Greek words Xeroderma or xerodermia. It is also known is xerosis cutis.
7. Does Diet Play a Role In Dry Skin?
Unhealthy diet and low level of Omega 3 fatty acids can dry out our skin. In order to prevent the skin from drying out it is recommended to eat healthy foods that are rich with Omega 3 and keep hydrated throughout the day.
Dry skin is a very common condition that usually affects elderly people. However, person of all ages are prone to this condition if they are exposed to harsh sanitizers or damaging UV rays. Dry skin usually occurs during the winter due to low humidity, and it is expressed through a series of symptoms. It is always recommended to visit a dermatologist and ask their advice regarding the treatment of this condition.