What is dry skin?
Dry skin is the medical condition where the skin becomes dry. It is marked by scaling, itching and cracking of the skin in random places. Dry skin can be a natural occurrence for some people, but when the intensity increases, it becomes a cosmetic / medical condition.
What are the common misconceptions?
- Dry skin is only on the face and lips – This is the first misconception. Dry skin is not limited to chafed lips or itchiness and dullness in face. Dry skin can occur in any part of the body, mostly the hands, arms and legs.
- Dry skin cannot occur with people who have oily skin – Dry skin is not a condition limited to people who are naturally born with it. Dry skin can occur even to those people who actually have oily skin due to a lot of reasons like improper care of the skin.
- Over the counter medicines are permanent cures – While the temporary signs of dry skin can be cured by simple over the counter moisturizers or simple lifestyle and diet changes, if the condition persists, it is better to go to a dermatologist for treatment.
- Long hot showers are good for the skin – though they might seem like it, showering and washing your skin is not a good remedy for dry skin and can even compound the condition.
- The weather does not play an actually important part in the condition – Dry skin can be caused by sun exposure to and can happen in hot and dry weather as much as it can happen in cold and humid weather conditions.
What are the causes of dry Skin?
Dry skin can be caused by a variety of reasons. The first and foremost reason for dry skin is aging but there are other factors that might cause dry skin in younger people too.
- Atopic dermatitis – This condition causes hypersensitive dry skin with recurrent bouts of skin rashes with or without respiratory problems. This has started occurring more commonly in children in developed countries, maybe due to over protected lifestyle and genetic alterations due to environmental triggers.
- Ichthyosis – This is extreme dry skin which looks scaly and fissured. This is a congenital problem and generally persists throughout life.
- Medication – Medicines like diuretics, retinoids, etc can dry the skin.
- Heredity – Tendency of dry skin can run in families.
- The Weather – The decrease in the humidity levels of the atmosphere and cold or dry weather parches the skin. Dryness and itching become common symptoms. The drier the air, the stronger the symptoms. Dermatologists also advise against prolonged use of air conditioners or air heaters that work by reducing the moisture levels from the air. As the moisture content decreases, dry skin risks increase manifold.
- Hot Showers – Hot shower is considered to be a good remedy for a lot of things including body pain. But prolonged exposure to water in higher temperatures, though bearable, might deplete the natural oil supply of the skin and can cause dryness. This cannot be remedied quickly because the hot shower actually seems good and standing under it for a long time might aggravate dry skin.
- Harsh soaps and make up products – In order to combat oily skin, people resort to using harsh soaps that promise oil free skin and end up overdoing it. Using a harsh soap will break the natural moisture layers of the skin and cause dry skin.
- Excessive Scrubbing – Speaking of a cleaning routine, excessive scrubbing also causes dry skin due to the friction which increases the dryness. Dermatologists recommend gentle scrubbing treatments regularly instead of harsh cleaning once in a while.
- Using Allergens / Irritants – Things like fabric conditioners, detergents and even some material used in dresses might trigger dry skin but we may not be aware of it and instead continue using these products because they do not come into contact with the skin directly (though they do so in a circuitous route). People do not give the same importance to a detergent that they do for soaps and body lotions and that cause dry skin.
- Improper Diet And Nutrition – Some food groups aggravate dry skin or allergy conditions and it is best to avoid those and instead eat the fruits or vegetables that help in promoting glowing and fresh skin.
- Lack of diagnosis and Treatment – Since dry skin is not particularly painful, most people often refuse proper treatment from dermatologists and resort to home remedies. But they might be suffering from acute and chronic conditions that might need immediate attention and cure.
- . Other than these major causes, even psoriasis and type-2 diabetes might cause dry skin.
What is the treatment?
Treatment varies from use of steroids and non steroidal anti-inflammatory agents in severe cases of eczema to moisturiser creams and oral moisturising agents.
To know more about the treatment methods, visit: http://skindoctorIndia.com/common-dermatologic-problems/dry–skin/
Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a cosmetic dermatologist practicing in Mumbai, India. She is also the co founder of The Esthetic Clinics and is associated with the Fortis Hospitals in Mumbai, India. She is a dermato -surgeon expert and has associations with the Stanford Medical University, USA.