Dry skin is a prevalent condition affecting people of different ages. While it is not a medical emergency, the symptoms of dry skin can be very discomforting. These symptoms can appear at any part of the body, but they are mostly found around the arms, legs, and hands. Some symptoms may also be witnessed on the stomach and face.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Skin?
The following are some of the most common symptoms of dry skin.
- Cracks – Skin dryness happens when the skin is unable to retain moisture. This causes the skin to shrink—the shrinkage results in visible cracks in different parts of the body.
- Flakes – Flakes and scales are quite common in individuals with dry skin issues. They give the skin a rough texture.
- Itchiness – Some patients may experience skin itchiness which can get very severe.
- Abnormal wrinkles – Abnormal wrinkles may appear around the legs and hands.
- Skin irritation – This is common in severe cases of dry skin. Sometimes the irritation is also accompanied by cuts and bleeding.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Skin dryness can be due to internal or external factors.
Internal factors stem from your body, e.g., a medical condition that’s affecting the skin’s ability to retain moisture. These factors usually result in a more severe form of dry skin. They also tend to be the hardest to deal with.
External factors can be weather and other things that affect your skin from outside the body. These are much easier to resolve. Preventing dry skin caused by external factors is also pretty easy.
Below is a list of some of the most common causes of skin dryness:
Reports show that individuals aged 40 years and older are at a higher risk of developing skin dryness than younger people. The experts at James Christian Cosmetics report that aging causes the skin to lose natural-occurring proteins and acids. These are the proteins responsible for keeping the skin moisturized and preventing wrinkles and other skin issues.
Scientists also explain that older women are at an even higher risk of developing dry skin. This is due to the hormonal changes caused by menopause.
Some people are naturally born with dry skin. According to a study available on the US National Library of Medicine, genetic mutations can affect the secretion of a protein known as filaggrin. This chemical is tasked with maintaining the skin barrier. Its absence results in numerous conditions, including atopic dermatitis.
The mutation can be passed down from one generation to the next. Treating dry skin caused by genetics requires a lot of continuous effort.
- Certain Medical Conditions
The following medical conditions also cause dry skin:
- Kidney disease – Kidney diseases affect the balance of fluids and minerals in the body. This increases the risk of dehydration and skin dryness.
- Diabetes – The American Academy of Dermatology reports that diabetes can cause skin itchiness and dryness.
- HIV – HIV patients are at a high risk of developing skin dryness. This is due to the impact of the condition on the immune system. It can also be a side effect of the medications used.
- Anorexia – Anorexia causes malnutrition which affects skin health.
- Eczema – Eczema is a common skin condition affecting more than 30 million Americans. There are different types of eczema, and almost all of them can cause skin dryness.
- Certain Medications
Certain drugs affect fluid balance in the body, causing skin dryness. Some good examples are antihistamines, laxatives, diuretics, antacids, and hypertension drugs.
Dehydration affects different organs, including the skin. It starves the skin, causing it to shrink and develop wrinkles.
Winter affects humidity levels, causing the skin to dry. Dry weather is also known for causing skin dryness. It stimulates your skin to release excess moisture, resulting in dryness.
Heat reduces humidity, causing your skin to lose its moisture. Try and avoid wood-burning stoves, central heating, and space heaters.
- Hot Showers
Long hot showers may feel therapeutic, but they are harmful to your skin. The heat dries your skin, leaving it flaked, wrinkled, and cracked.
- Harsh Cleaning Detergents
Harsh cleaning products drain moisture from your skin. Some shampoos can also dry your scalp and hands.
How To Treat And Prevent Dry Skin?
Dry skin treatments vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, simple home remedies are more than enough to tackle the disease.
Here are good examples:
- Adding baby oil to your bathing water. You can also apply the oil to damp skin after showering.
- Showering with warm and not hot water
- Exfoliation to remove dead skin. This can be done using scrubs or pumice stones. Chemical exfoliators are also very effective.
- Applying body-friendly creams regularly.
- Increasing air moisture with humidifiers
- Using a cold compress on the affected area
The above remedies will rarely work if you’re experiencing a severe form of dry skin. If that’s the case, you’ll need the following medications:
- Drugs containing a steroid called hydrocortisone
- Topical antiseptics
- Topical medications, i.e., medical creams
After battling dry skin successfully, how do you ensure the condition doesn’t come back? Here are some additional tips on preventing skin dryness:
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Wear your sunscreen
- Reduce coffee consumption
- Avoid smoking
- Wear some rubber gloves when using cleaning detergents
- Rub your skin gently when coming out of the shower
- Stay hydrated
- Stay moisturized
- Cover your skin during cold weather
- Reduce the time spent in the shower
A seemingly harmless dry skin can lead to more severe medical conditions like atopic dermatitis and infections. To avoid this, you must consult a physician as soon as you notice the condition is getting out of hand. And how do you know when the condition is out of control?
If you’ve been using remedies for some time with no improvements, stop self-treating and see a doctor. You should also check in with your physician when you notice redness, open sores, and excessive itching. Dry skin is a common condition, but it’s pretty easy to treat. Use the above remedies to treat the issue and keep yourself safe.