About dry skin

What is dry skin?

Dry skin facts

  • Dry skin is a very common condition that causes small fine flakes and dry patches.
  • Itching is one of the most common symptoms of dry skin.
  • Scratching may be hard to resist.
  • Dry skin is more common in colder winter months and drier climates.
  • The elderly are more prone to dry skin than younger people.
  • Dry skin is more common in individuals with a history of eczema.
  • Dry skin may rarely be a side effect of medications.
  • Dry skin is more common in those with hypothyroidism.
  • Repeat itch-scratch cycles may lead to skin thickening and darkening.
  • Possible complications include rashes, eczema, and bacterial infections.
  • Extremely dry skin can cause cracks and breaks in the skin.
  • Medications including topical corticosteroids and oral antihistamines can help ease itching.
  • Secondary infections may result from scratches and skin breakdown.
  • Topical or oral antibiotics may be necessary for secondarily infected dry skin.
  • Several home remedies, such as decreasing bathing frequency and lubricating the skin with moisturizers after showers, can help control and prevent dry skin.

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a very common skin condition characterized by a lack of the appropriate amount of water in the most superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis. While dry skin tends to affect males and females equally, older individuals are typically much more prone to dry skin. The skin in elderly individuals tends to have diminished amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants. Areas such as the arms, hands, and particularly lower legs tend to be more affected by dry skin. Dryness of the skin is affected by the amount of water vapor in the surrounding air, the humidity. Dry skin is also known as xeroderma or xerosis.

Dry skin may be a mild, temporary condition lasting a few days to weeks. Dry skin may also become a more severe, long-term skin problem for some. Symptoms of dry skin include discomfort from skin tightness and itching. In addition, external factors such as weather can affect the severity of skin dryness. For example, cold or dry air and winter weather can worsen dry skin. Individuals whose occupations require more frequent hand-washing and sanitizing may experience dry skin more often. Dry skin may also be a side effect of some medications or a symptom of an underlying medical disorder.

The epidermis is normally composed of fat (lipid) and protein. The lipid portion of the epidermis helps prevent skin dehydration. When the skin's fatty oils are removed, the skin loses its protection and loses moisture more easily. As skin becomes dry, it also may become more sensitive and prone to rashes and skin breakdown. This condition is sometimes referred to as xerosis. Dry skin may be an entirely invisible skin condition, or may cause a fine dry powder-like appearance of the skin. Untreated, dry skin may become irritated and result in a red rash (xerodermatitis).

Simple prevention and treatment measures are very effective in the treatment of dry skin. Basic dry skin prevention steps include avoidance of harsh soaps and chemical cleansers. Treatment generally requires more frequent and regular applications of bland emollients and moisturizers. Untreated, dry skin may result in complications, including rashes, eczema, secondary bacterial infections, cellulitis, and skin discoloration. Fortunately, dry skin is usually mild and can be easily remedied.



What are the symptoms for dry skin?

Flaking symptom was found in the dry skin condition

Dry skin is often temporary — you get it only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong condition. Signs and symptoms of Dry skin depend on your age, your health, where you live, time spent outdoors and the cause of the problem. Dry skin is likely to cause one or more of the following:

  • A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
  • Skin that feels and looks rough
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
  • Fine lines or cracks
  • Gray, ashy skin
  • Redness
  • Deep cracks that may bleed

When to see a doctor

Most cases of Dry skin respond well to lifestyle and home remedies. See your doctor if:

  • Your skin doesn't improve in spite of your best efforts
  • Dry skin is accompanied by redness
  • Dryness and Itching interfere with sleeping
  • You have open sores or infections from scratching
  • You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin



What are the causes for dry skin?

Dry skin (xerosis) often has an environmental cause. Certain diseases also can significantly affect your skin. Potential causes of dry skin include:

  • Weather. Skin tends to be driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. But the season may not matter as much if you live in desert regions.
  • Heat. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
  • Hot baths and showers. Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin. So can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
  • Harsh soaps and detergents. Many popular soaps, detergents and shampoos strip moisture from your skin as they are formulated to remove oil.
  • Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis are prone to dry skin.



What are the treatments for dry skin?

The best treatment for dry skin is daily lubrication with an emollient (a substance that inhibits the evaporation of water). Because most dry skin is due to external causes, external treatments like creams and lotions can be applied and effectively control the skin problem. Often, dry skin can be improved by applying a bland over-the-counter moisturizer. Once other causes of dry skin have been ruled out, the main goals of treatments are to stop the itching, prevent loss of water, and restore skin hydration.

Light moisturizing lotions for mild dry skin

  • Cetaphil lotion
  • Lubriderm lotion
  • Curel lotion

Highly moisturizing products (that characteristically do not flow out of the jar when inverted) for severe dry skin

  • Vaseline
  • Aquaphor
  • Crisco vegetable shortening

Topical steroid creams include

  • hydrocortisone 1% cream (mild strength),
  • Pramosone 2.5% cream (mild strength),
  • triamcinolone 0.1% cream (medium strength),
  • fluocinonide 0.05% cream (strong strength).

As a general rule, only mild corticosteroid creams like hydrocortisone should be used on the face, underarm, and groin areas. Long-term application of strong corticosteroid creams like fluocinonide may cause serious adverse effects, including skin thinning, stretch marks, and skin breakdown.

Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax), and cetirizine (Zyrtec) may also alleviate generalized itching in dry skin.

Anti-itch oral medications

  • hydroxyzine (Atarax)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

What are possible complications of dry skin?

A common complication of dry skin and itching is secondary bacterial infection. Infections may be mild and resolve spontaneously or may be more severe and necessitate antibiotic treatment. Severe itching leads to repeat scratching of lesions, hence the "itch-scratch-rash-itch" cycle. Because of the persistence of this itch-scratch cycle, the skin may become much thickened in these areas from rubbing. Repeat skin rubbing in the same area may lead to two localized chronic skin conditions called lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) and prurigo nodule.

What are some home remedies for dry skin?

Apply an emollient cream two or three times daily to wet skin.

Dry skin may be improved by taking lukewarm showers or baths and avoiding excess skin scrubbing. Hot water and harsh scrubbing can take away the natural oils that protect skin and make the skin even drier.

Dry skin may be prevented by use of gentle cleansers. Non-scented, mild cleansers or soap-free products like Aveeno, Cetaphil, Dove, or Neutrogena are recommended for dry and sensitive skin. Many scented, deodorant, and antibacterial soaps can be too harsh and wash off natural skin-protecting oils.

Special moisturizers containing lactic acid (Amlactin, Lac-Hydrin), or urea (Urix or Carmol) are also effective in hydrating the skin.

Mild soaps and cleansers include

  • Dove soapless cleanser,
  • Aveeno cleanser,
  • Cetaphil cleanser.

Mild moisturizers without perfumes are good for dry skin. Thick and greasy emollients work best. Typically, moisturizers should be applied within three to five minutes of bathing when the skin is still damp.

The moisture on the skin and in the environment is very important to dry skin. Maintaining the skin at optimal hydration and using an indoor humidifier may help improve dry skin.



What are the risk factors for dry skin?

Anyone can develop dry skin. But you may be more likely to develop the condition if you:

  • Are in your 40s or older. The risk increases with age — more than 50 percent of older adults have dry skin.
  • Live in dry, cold or low-humidity climates.
  • Have a job that requires you to immerse your skin in water, such as nursing and hairstyling.
  • Swim frequently in chlorinated pools.



Is there a cure/medications for dry skin?

Dry skin also known as xeroderma, is serious in patients with a history of comorbidities such as renal abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, medications for the diseases, or occupational exposure to allergens/irritants.

Treatment

  • The aims of the treatment are rehydration, restoration of lipids in the epidermis, optimization of skin functions, and enhancement of skin differentiation.
  • Dry skin responds well to simple lifestyle changes, such as using moisturizers and avoiding long, hot showers and baths. If you have very dry skin, your doctor may recommend a moisturizing product formulated for your needs.
    Some active ingredients improve skin texture:
  • Humectants: Humectants including ammonium lactate, glycerine, hyaluronic acid, gelatin, and urea promote the transfer of water, from the dermis to the epidermis.
  • Emollients: Petrolatum, dimethicone and propylene glycol fills gaps and fissures in the skin.
  • Occlusives: Occlusives prevent water loss by forming a hydrophobic layer. Lanolin, paraffin, cholesterol, petrolatum, and stearyl alcohol are some occlusives.
  • Topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors are advisable when dry skin worsens to pruritis or dermatitis.
    Some commonly advised strategies are:
  • Avoiding frequent bathing and hot water
  • Use mild cleansers such as synthetic detergents in the place of conventional soaps.
  • Routine application of skin moisturizers.
  • Using humidifiers during dry climate.
  • Adequate fluid intake to stay hydrated.


Symptoms
Skin roughness, tightness, flaking, and scaling
Conditions
Dermatological conditions: atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis
Drugs
Humectants: ammonium lactate, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, gelatin, and urea,Emmolients: Petrolatum, dimethicone, and propylene glycol,Occlusives: lanolin, paraffin, cholesterol, petrolatum, and stearyl alcohol,Corticosteroids,Calcineurin inhibitors



Video related to dry skin