Dry skin is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It is a very common skin problem and is often worse during the winter when environmental humidity is low. In this article we’ll look at ; what dry skin patches is, its causes, symptoms and treatment.
What is dry skin?
Dry skin is when the skin do not have enough moisture in it to keep it feeling soft and supple.
Normally, your body sheds about 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells each day and replaces them with new ones. The outer layer of your skin contains a mixture of dead skin cells and natural oils, which help it hold on to water. If this layer is damaged and moisture gets out, or if your skin cell renewal process goes off the rails, you could get flaky or scaly.
People with dry skin may have rough-feeling patches that flake off or look scaly. It may or may not be itchy. Severe dry skin may crack and bleed.
Causes of Dry Skin
You can develop dry skin for many reasons, including:
- Age: People who are over 40 years are more prone to dry skin due to natural skin changes. As you age, oil and sweat glands dry up, and skin loses fat and elasticity, causing it to become thinner.
- Climate: People who live in dry, desert-like environments are more prone to dry skin because there’s less moisture, or humidity, in the air.
- Genetics: Some people inherit certain skin conditions, such as eczema, that cause dry skin.
- Health conditions: Some illnesses, including diabetes and kidney disease can also cause dry and itchy skin.
- Occupations: Healthcare providers, hairstylists and other professionals are more likely to develop dry, red skin because they wash hands frequently.
Symptoms of Dry Skin
Signs of dry skin include:
- Cracked, rough-looking skin.
- Flakes or scales.
Applying moisturizers every day can help soften dry skin. You can also try these at-home methods:
- Cleanse with a mild, fragrance-free, moisturizing soap.
- Limit showers or baths to no longer than 10 minutes, and use warm (not hot) water.
- Manage stress (it can aggravate eczema and other skin conditions).
- Minimize sun exposure, which evaporates oils and moisture from the skin.
- Moisturize as soon as you finish bathing, while your skin is damp and soft.
- Pat skin dry with a soft towel.
- Prevent dehydration and keep skin hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
- Stop smoking (nicotine reduces blood flow, which dries out skin).
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to your home’s air.
Management and Treatment
Your healthcare provider may recommend moisturizing your skin with:
- Moisturizers: Regular use of a moisturizer is the mainstay of treatment for most types of dry skin. They smooth and soften dry skin to help prevent cracking and work to recreate your natural skin barrier. Moisturizing products come in ointments, creams, lotions and oils.
- Medications: For extremely dry skin that’s itchy or prone to cracking, your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical steroid or other steroid-sparing agent, both of which act to decrease the inflammation in the skin that causes the rash and itching. In severe cases, oral or injectable medication may be appropriate.