Also referred to as xerosis, dry skin is usually brought about by environmental issues. However other factors also contribute towards the development of this type of skin. Below we look at some of the causes of dry skin and how to prevent and treat* them.
1. Central Heating and Air Conditioning
One of the primary causes of dry skin is reduced* moisture. When the skin becomes hydrated, it tends to become dry. Central heating and air conditioning systems all work by reducing* the amount of humidity in the air. Once moisture level drops, the skin becomes dry. A simple solution to this is to use heating only when necessary. You should also use a moisturizing lotion whenever you feel your skin getting dry. Drinking lots of water also helps to keep the skin hydrated.
2. Low Humidity
As mentioned in the above point, low humidity means less moisture in the air. Some locations tend to be lower in humidity than others. People who leave in low humidity regions tend to be more susceptible to the development of dry skin. Having a moisturizer with you at all times can be of great help in managing the situation.
3. Hot Baths and Showers
If you like your showers hot and long, you are a very possible suspect to dry skin. Normal skin has an upper layer of lipids or fatty substances. This layer is what keeps the skin soft and moisturized. Hot water tends to remove* this layer thus leaving the skin exposed. This is why it is advisable to use a moisturizer immediately after a hot shower to replace the lost oils and wait for them to build up again.
Aging has the ability to reduce* the skin’s ability to retain its moisture. For one, it reduces* the skin regenerating ability and secondly the lipid layer reduces*. As the skin wrinkles and dries out the best solution is a moisturizer at all times.
5. Sun Exposure
Exposing yourself to the sun without any protection or your skin can cause a whole lot of skin problems. From age spots to sun spots and dry skin, the sun can very quickly damage the skin if proper care is not taken. Skin dryness results from the heat released by the sun. The damage however can extend deep below the skin where ultra violet rays penetrate. Using sunscreen lotion or wearing protective clothing every time you are outside can help to keep your skin supple and healthy.
6. Atopic Dermatitis
This is a mild form of eczema and one of the primary symptoms is dry skin. This type of skin dryness usually occurs in the fold of the elbows, wrists, ankles and knees. It can also be observed on the face and the neck.
7. Medications and Drugs
Some drugs have side effects that include dryness of the skin. The most common drugs that bring about this condition are those for high blood pressure, acne and a variety of skin conditions. If the situation worsens, talking to your doctor about a change in dosage or medication can help to deal with it.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that is characterized by a buildup of dead skin cells. The end result of psoriasis is a scaly dry skin.
9. Thyroid Disorders
The thyroid disorder, hypothyroidism, results when too little thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland. This in turn interferes with the production of oil on the surface of the skin and eventually the skin becomes dry.
Treatment and Prevention
When you visit the doctor, you will most likely be prescribed an over the counter cream that can counter the condition. Most creams used to combat skin dryness contain urea and lactic acid or lactic acid alone. If the skin dryness has progressed into a more serious condition such as dermatitis then the treatment has to be different. There are various creams and ointments that are effective in treating more serious dry skin conditions and the resulting complications. Most of these creams may contain hydrocortisone. Sometimes, severe skin dryness leads to open wounds due to skin cracking. For this, various measures have to be taken to protect the wounds from infection.
In general however, a change in lifestyle habits works just fine. Go for lukewarm showers instead of hot ones, use mild soaps and detergents, keep your skin hydrated and many others. With just a few changes you will be surprised at the results.
As usual however, prevention is better than cure*. To avoid having to treat* a dry skin, ensure that you avoid dry air (low humidity air) and it would also help to buy a moisturizing lotion. Other prevention techniques include avoiding prolonged sun exposure, protecting your skin against UV rays and as always going for frequent skin care checkups.