Dry skin, also known as xeroderma, is a common skin condition that can be uncomfortable and unattractive. Individuals troubled by dry skin experience redness and itchiness in the affected area. In most cases, dry skin can be symptomatically controlled with simple treatments.
Causes of Dry Skin
Aging, and its resulting changes in hormone levels, is a common cause of dry skin. In addition, certain diseases or environmental factors may cause the skin to become excessively dry.
Disease Conditions That Cause Dry Skin
Skin dryness may be caused by several skin disorders, including contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, psoriasis, and ichthyosis, a genetic disorder causing a dry scaly appearance to the skin. There may be difficulty at first in distinguishing early symptoms of these conditions from more ordinary dry skin.
Eczema can usually be diagnosed because of the locations of the affected areas which are usually on the face, sides of the neck, and the backs of the elbow and knees. Psoriasis and ichthyosis, on the other hand, present as accumulations of rough scaly skin cells on many areas of the body. All three skin disorders result in more severe symptoms than simple dry skin and often cause psychological problems, due to altered appearance, as well as medical ones.
Other diseases, such as certain endocrine or autoimmune disorders may also result in dry skin. These include hypothroidism, diabetes and Sjogren‘s disease. Certain medications may also cause dry skin.
Environmental Factors That Cause Dry Skin
Some of the environmental factors that may cause the skin to dry out include:
- Exposure to hot or cold weather
- Long hot showers
- Dry indoor heat
- Harsh soaps, shampoos or detergents
- Particular dyes or chemicals
- Sun exposure
Treatments for Dry Skin
For most people, the tightness, itchiness and general discomfort of dry skin are relatively easy to alleviate. Simple lifestyle changes, like covering oneself appropriately against cold weather, wearing protective sunscreen, avoiding hot showers or baths, using moisturizing creams, particularly immediately after bathing, and humidifying the surrounding air, can be sufficient. Products with petroleum jelly are especially useful in eliminating dry skin since they provide an effective barrier to moisture. Products with fragrance are to be avoided since they may further dry out the skin.
If a particular substance, material or medication is found to be causing the skin irritation, avoiding it can make a tremendous difference. For more severe cases of skin dryness, stronger creams or ointments may be prescribed by the physician. There is also some scientific evidence that taking a fish oil supplement may improve the condition of dry skin.
Can Soaking in a Bath Help My Dry Skin?
It would make sense that anything that is parched could benefit from a good soaking. When it comes to your skin, this may not be entirely true. Water that is applied to the skin evaporates. When it does, it takes your natural skin oils with it. So, if you soak your skin frequently, you could actually be making the dryness worse. This is especially true if you like to soak or shower in hot water.
Having dry skin doesn't mean that you have to forego the bath or the occasional steamy shower for the rest of your life. To ensure that your skin doesn't suffer, infuse warm baths with plenty of nourishing oil. Grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil are all known to be very replenishing when it comes to locking in moisture.
The soaps and lotions that you apply to dry skin are also impactful. Cleansers that contain a high amount of surfactants can enhance the evaporation of oils because tey work to break apart natural oils for better cleansing. This may work well for normal and oily skin but not for dry skin. In your situation, you may benefit the most from the use of something much gentler, like Cetaphil Skin Cleanser or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser.
How Should I Moisturize Dry Skin?
People with normal and oily skin may not need to worry about skipping the moisturizer every now and then. This isn't the case for people with dry skin. If your skin looks scaly, flaky, or has poor texture due to dryness, your daily moisturizer is paramount to your overall dermatologic health. It's not enough to slap on any old moisturizer, either. To help protect your skin and retain a healthy moisture barrier, you can apply a lighter-weight moisturizer with SPF 30 sunscreen in the morning and reach for a creamier, richer moisturizer before you go to bed each night. Don't apply your moisturizer only to your face! Show your neck, chest, and hands some love, too.
Can a Chemical Peel Help My Dry Skin?
Exfoliation is a tricky aspect of skincare for those with dry skin. Those dead, dry, damaged skin cells may not slough off naturally and could use a little help. That said, it's very easy to over-exfoliate when your skin is dry. Most experts advise against manual exfoliation at home. For example, you may not benefit from scrubbing your skin with an abrasive cleanser every day. You might, however, gain a lot by applying an exfoliating serum a few times a week. Another option to consider is seeing your dermatologist for chemical peel treatment a few times a year. Depending on the strength of the peel that is ideal for you, your appointments may occur as often as every month. Chemical peels gently slough off dead skin cells using specific, proven ingredients like salicylic acid. This allows healthy youthful cells to rise to the surface.