What's causing your dry skin problem?
Check these 11 common causes of dry skin
"Dry skin is extremely common," says dermatologist, Dr Barney Kenet, and if the itching wasn’t bad enough, a dry skin problem can be more than just a superficial issue, experts say.
"Your intact, healthy skin is your body's primary defence against infection," says Professor of dermatology, Dr Claude Burton. If you let your skin get dried out and cracked, you could be giving all sorts of nasty bacteria a way in. That can lead to more serious problems.
There are lots of good reasons to do something about your dry, itchy skin - your looks, your health, and your sanity. So it's time to put down the back scratcher and figure out what's really causing your dry skin problem.
For many, dry skin is not a sign of a skin condition or disease, but is simply caused by harsh soaps, itchy clothing, misusing moisturiser, and long, hot showers. But the medications you take - and even medical conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, hypothyroidism, and malnutrition - can also cause severe dry skin. Read on to understand how and why these problems dry out your skin.
Understanding dry skin
Let's start with some skin basics. Normal, healthy skin is coated in a thin layer of natural lipids, or fatty substances. They keep in moisture, leaving the skin soft and supple.
What causes dry skin - or xerosis, as it's known medically? Usually, something in the environment - or something you're doing to your skin - is stripping away these fatty oils, leaving your skin unprotected. Less often, the cause is internal; a health condition or genetic predisposition is making your skin dry out.
While patches of dry, itchy skin can appear anywhere, it's most common on the arms, hands, lower legs and abdomen. Dry skin is often felt more than it's seen, but on some people it can be noticeable and embarrassing. For many black people, dry skin is a special concern, since the flakes of skin can look grey, or "ashy," says assistant professor of medicine, Dr Vesna Petronic-Rosic.
If untreated, dry skin can sometimes lead to dermatitis - inflammation of the skin - swelling, and infection. The good news is that just as most causes of dry skin are external, most cures for dry skin are external. With careful dry skin care, you can usually solve the problem.