By Medicover Hospitals / 20 Feb 2021
Rough, dry skin may have scales or small cracks. Dry skin can have causes that are not because of an underlying disease. Examples include a dry environment, frequent hand washing, inadequate hydration, swimming in a chlorinated pool, or difficult hand jobs like mechanics or farming.
- What is Dry Skin?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is a very common skin condition characterized by a lack of adequate water in the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. While dry skin affects both men and women equally, older people are much more prone to dry skin. The skin of older people has a reduced amount of natural oils and lubricants. Areas such as the arms, hands, and especially the lower legs are more affected by dry skin. Environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, have a profound effect on the amount of water retained in the skin. For example, cold, dry air when heated by an oven will produce dry skin by evaporating moisture from the skin. Frequent hand washing and disinfection cause evaporation and dryness. Dry skin can also be a side effect of certain medications and a by-product of certain skin conditions.
The epidermis is normally made up of lipids and proteins. The lipid part of the epidermis, associated with specific epidermal proteins, helps prevent skin dehydration. When there are deficient proteins and lipids, moisture in the skin evaporates more easily. When the skin becomes dry, it can also become more sensitive and prone to rashes and skin breakdown. The medical term for dry skin is xerosis.
Types of dry skin:
Exposure to dry weather, hot water, and certain chemicals can dry out your skin. Underlying medical conditions can also cause dry skin.
Dermatitis is the medical term for extremely dry skin. There are several types of dermatitis.
- Contact dermatitis develops when your skin reacts to something it affects, causing local inflammation.
- Irritant contact dermatitis can occur when your skin is exposed to a chemical irritant, such as bleach.
- Allergic contact dermatitis can develop when your skin is exposed to a substance to which you are allergic, such as nickel.
Seborrheic dermatitis occurs when the skin produces too much oil. This results in a red, scaly rash, usually on your scalp. This type of dermatitis occurs in infants.
Atopic dermatitis is also known as eczema. It is a chronic skin condition that causes dry, scaly patches to appear on your skin. It is common in young children.
Other conditions, such as psoriasis and type 2 diabetes, can also cause the skin to dry out.
You can develop dry skin for many reasons, including:
- Age: Older people are more prone to dry skin because of natural changes in the skin. As we age, the sebaceous and sweat glands dry out and the skin loses fat and elasticity, which makes it thinner.
- Climate: People who live in dry, desert environments are more prone to dry skin because there is less humidity or humidity in the air.
- Genetics: Some people inherit certain skin conditions, such as eczema, which causes dry skin.
- Health Concerns: Certain illnesses, including diabetes and kidney disease, can cause dry, itchy skin.
- Occupations: Healthcare professionals, hairdressers, and other professionals are more likely to develop dry, red skin because they wash their hands frequently.
Anyone can develop dry skin. But you may be more likely to develop the disease if you:
- Are in your 40s or older. The risk increases with age, more than 50% of the elderly have dry skin.
- Live in dry, cold, or low humidity climates.
- Have a job that requires you to submerge your skin in water, such as breastfeeding and hairdressing.
- Swim frequently in chlorinated pools.
Dry skin is easy to diagnose by its appearance. Depending on your symptoms, your health care provider may order tests to check for health conditions that are causing dry skin, such as:
- Allergy test to identify substances that cause allergic reactions.
- A blood test to look for conditions like diabetes or renal disease.
- Skin biopsy (tissue sample) to test for eczema or other skin problems.
The best treatment for dry skin is daily lubrication with an emollient. Because most of the dry skin is due to external causes, external treatments such as creams and lotions can be applied and effectively control the skin problem. Often, dry skin can be improved by applying an over-the-counter bland moisturizer. Once other causes of dry skin have been ruled out, the main goals of treatments are to stop itching, prevent water loss, and restore moisture to the skin.
Lightweight moisturizing lotions for slightly dry skin include:
Highly moisturizing products for very dry skin include:
Topical steroid creams include:
- Cetaphil Lotion
- Lubriderm Lotion
- Curel Lotion
As a general rule, only mild corticosteroid creams like hydrocortisone should be used on the face, armpits, and groin. Long-term application of strong corticosteroid creams like fluocinonide can cause serious side effects, including thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and breakdown of the skin.
Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax), and cetirizine (Zyrtec) can also relieve generalized itching of dry skin by allowing better sleep at night. They have no direct effect on the itching itself.
Oral anti-itch medications include:
- Hydrocortisone cream 1%
- Pramosone 2.5% cream
- 0.1% triamcinolone cream
- Fluocinonide cream 0.05%
- Hydroxyzine (Atarax)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
When to visit a Doctor?
See the doctor if you experience:
- Your skin does not improve despite your best efforts
- Dry skin is accompanied by redness
- Dryness and itching interfere with sleep
- You have open sores or infections from scratching
- You have large areas of peeling or peeling skin
You can relieve dry skin by restoring moisture to your skin.
- Moisturize your skin with an ointment, cream or lotion 2 to 3 times a day, or as often as needed.
- Moisturizers help lock in moisture, so they work best on damp skin. After bathing, pat dry the skin and then apply your moisturizer.
- Avoid skincare products and soaps that contain alcohol, perfumes, dyes, or other chemicals.
- Take short, hot baths or showers. Limit your time to 5 to 10 minutes. Avoid taking hot baths or showers.
- Bathe only once a day.
- Instead of regular soap, try using mild skin cleansers or soap with added moisturizers.
- Use only soap or cleansers on your face, armpits, genitals, hands, and feet.
- Avoid rubbing your skin.
- Shave right after a bath, when the hair is soft.
- Wear soft, comfortable clothing close to your skin. Avoid rough fabrics like wool.
- Wash clothes with detergents free of dyes or perfumes.
- To drink a lot of water.
- Relieve itchy skin by applying a cool compress to the irritated areas.
- Try over-the-counter cortisone creams or lotions if your skin is inflamed.
- Look for moisturizers that contain ceramides.
Frequently Asked Questions:
We tend to think that drinking lots of water can cure dry skin, but the truth is, it's not effective. A person who is normally hydrated is unlikely to see a difference in their skin after drinking an increased volume of water.
Dehydrated skin lacks water where dry skin lacks sebum. Additionally, dry skin is a type of skin while dehydrated skin is a skin condition. This means that genetics are involved in preventing your dry skin from producing enough sebum, but outside factors are the cause of your dehydrated skin.
Milk is good for dry, scaly skin. It helps replenish lost oils, making the skin smooth and hydrated throughout the day.
These are 7 natural oils for dry skin:
Dry skin, moisturization and corneodesmolysis - https://europepmc.org/article/med/18503460
Dry skin and moisturizers - https://www.cidjournal.com/article/S0738-081X(01)00199-7/abstract
Skin Aging and Dry Skin - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1346-8138.2004.tb00565.x