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Dry Skin – Causes, Prevention & Home Remedies

Dry skin is also called xerosis, which is a common skin condition

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Dry Skin – Causes, Prevention & Home Remedies—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Dry skin is also called xerosis, which is a common skin condition. Although it is not serious, it can be really uncomfortable, irritable and may upset the person cosmetically. However, there are certain dry skin conditions which can be quite serious like when it is associated with chronic illnesses or genetic conditions which are inherited from birth such as ichthyosis.

There are several home remedies which will help your skin condition as it is usually temporary and many ways to prevent it. If the dry skin persists or if severe it is best to seek help.

Dry Skin (Xerosis)

Figure 1 Picture of Dry Skin (Xerosis)

Ichthyosis

Figure 2 Image of Ichthyosis

The main substance of skin cells is water. The fat layer underneath the skin helps it look healthy and supple. There are glands called sebaceous glands in the skin which produces natural oils, which keeps skin moisturized.

What are the risk factors or causes for dry skin?

  • Aging – Skin becomes dry after 40 -45 years of age as the secretion of natural oils are reduced with aging
  • Those who live in dry, cold climates with low humidity and winds
  • Swimmers – swimming frequently in highly chlorinated pools will dry up your skin
  • Certain jobs like nurses, hair dresses who frequently immerse hands in water, maids who scrub flours and wash clothes all the time

As frequent washing and drying, frequent contact with strong detergents, soaps, and chemicals will strip off your natural oils from skin and makes it dry.

  • Not drinking the adequate amount of water leading to dehydration reduces water content in skin cells
  • When using heaters or fireplaces during winter as it reduces humidity in the air
  • Using hot showers and warm baths – Hot water removes natural oils from skin

What are the illnesses associated with or cause Dry Skin?

  • Ichthyosis – This can be commonly genetic and occurs from birth or later acquired. The word “Icthy” in Greek means fish, as the name suggests skin looks like fish scales

The skin is very dry and scaly.

  • Atopic dermatitis and eczema – This can occur in both children and adults. Even after it settles commonly after childhood, the dry skin will continue
  • Psoriasis – This is a chronic skin disease which comes and goes in certain individuals with thick, scaly, silvery or reddish patches on the skin making it very dry.
  • Thyroid disorders – Usually when the hormone – thyroxin level is low (Hypothyroidism) the skin becomes dry

There may be associated symptoms like cold intolerance, lethargy, constipation and sometimes a visible goiter

  • Nutritional imbalances – like Vitamin A, D, C, B, and minerals like Zinc, magnesium deficiencies will cause dry skin

May also associated with dry course hair, brittle nails etc.

  • Certain cancers are associated with dry skin like skin cancers, or treatment for cancer per se can lead to dry skin

Symptoms of Dry Skin

  • Skin looks dry and scaly
  • When felt the skin is rough
  • Itching and irritable
  • Skin feels tight
  • Scaling of the skin or peeling off, can appear like flakes
  • Redness, soreness with the burning sensation
  • Fine lines, and if worse may lead to cracks. If the cracks are deep may bleed
  • Dry Skin doesn’t have a healthy glow, may look greyish and dull
  • Cracked lips – chapped or scaly

Complications

Dry skin condition can be temporary however sometimes complications can occur.

  • Infections – when the skin is damaged due to scratching or cracking, bacteria can get in and cause infection. Skin will become red, sore, swollen or oozing with pus etc.
  • Bleeding and ulceration – If the cracks or fissures are deep
  • If a person is prone to atopic dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis (even if it is previously controlled) dry skin will cause the disease to reactivate causing inflammation, itching, redness, and cracks.

Home remedies

  • Use mild body washes, mild soaps which are fragrant free or soap-free cleansers

There are soap substitutes like aqueous cream which has moisturizing and cleansing properties both.

  • Moisturize your skin several times a day using a suitable moisturizing cream, lotion, hand creams etc.

Once you have a bath apply moisturizer when the skin is still damp. It helps to keep skin soft and supple and better moisturized.

  • Use cool water to bathe or shower
  • Wipe skin softly or pat dry, do not rub
  • Use cold compresses to soothe your skin if sore
  • If the skin is very dry coconut oil or olive oil can be applied at night
  • Over the counter, moisturizing agents like Vaseline or products which contain lactic acid or urea can be tried, as these ingredients help skin cells to hold water in.
  • Use a lip balm containing petroleum or natural bee honey to moisturize lips to prevent drying and chapping

When to seek help and Medical Treatment?

  • If dry skin is severe with redness, soreness, and cracks
  • If it is uncomfortable and interferes with day to day activities and disturbs sleep
  • When dry skin is widespread, scaly and peeling off
  • If cracks are bleeding, skin is infected and oozing with pus
  • When there are systemic features like loss of weight, lethargy, cold intolerance, constipation which may point towards an underlying chronic disease
  • After trying various home remedies but no improvement and worsen with time

The dermatologist or a qualified medical practitioner can assess how dry your skin is and prescribe moisturizing agents accordingly. If associated eczema or atopic dermatitis is present, steroid creams will be added. If the skin is infected antibiotic creams or even oral antibiotics may be used depending on the severity of the infection.

Sometimes if the doctor suspects vitamin and mineral deficiency a multivitamin may be prescribed for 3-6 months.

If the symptoms point towards a chronic illness further investigations are done and treatment and follow up will be planned accordingly.

Prevention of Dry skin

  • Avoid washing skin all the time
  • Avoid hot water baths
  • Avoid strong soaps and detergents, hand sanitizers whenever possible
  • Use gloves – Protects skin from losing natural oils by frequent washing and detergents
  • Wear protective clothing when going out in the sun or cold windy weather
  • If using heaters at home during winter, use a humidifier if possible to keep the air inside your home humid and moist.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat fruits, nuts, vegetables, and green leaves
  • Get a good night sleep and avoid stress

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Diagnose Skin Disorders

Use our online dermatologist AI app to determine your skin conditions

Dry Skin – Causes, Prevention & Home Remedies—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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