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Dry Skin

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The skin is always subjected to exposure, be it the sun, heat, wind or pollutants. These are some external factors that contribute to drying of skin while some people have naturally dry skin. It can also be an inherited disorder which is termed as ichthyosis. Let’s analyse dry skin in details in the following content.

Symptoms associated with Dry Skin

Dry skin is itself a visible symptom. We have explained some of the symptoms associated with dry skin to understand how it exactly feels like:

  • Tightness and tautness in the skin
  • Visible cracks, chaps or fine lines on the skin
  • Stretched skin and bleeding
  • Redness and roughness on the skin
  • Scaly and flaky skin
  • Itching on the skin

The skin of the feet, palm, lips and face are more prone to drying as they are easily deprived of moisture and are the most exposed parts of the body.

Causes of dry skin

Dry skin causes range from external factors like weather to internal problems of hormone. We elaborate them below:

  • Drying of skin is very common in winter season. The moisture evaporates due to low humidity in the environment
  • Taking frequent hot bath, sauna and exposing the skin to heat treatments or working continuously in a dry environment like in AC cause the skin to dry
  • Exposing skin to harsh UV rays not only dries the skin but also makes it red and tanned
  • Using detergents with naked hands, excessive scrubbing of skin, applying anti bacterial soaps, alcohol based products, etc.
  • Ichthyosis vulgaris is a genetic skin disease that occurs mostly in the lower leg characterized by dryness and fishlike scales on the skin
  • People suffering from hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, atopic dermatitis, eczema, cellulitis, folliculitis, and psoriasis have severe dry skin problems
  • Retinoid based creams for acne, high blood pressure pills and cholesterol lowering drugs induce dryness in skin

Are there any complications associated with dry skin?

Dry skin is not something to worry about until you have a skin disease like eczema. Since it’s an initial symptom, neglecting the skin is certainly not advisable as it can lead to bleeding, development of cracks and fissures on the skin. The wound then becomes a breeding ground of bacteria.

When to see a doctor?

Visit a dermatologist if you observe allergy or rashes on the skin, if the dryness persists despite moisturizing and taking all precautions and if there’s any open wound on the infected area.

Diagnosis of Dry Skin

Your dermatologist will perform a physical exam and scrutinize your skin very closely.

He will check your lifestyle, eating habits, the cosmetics you are using, bathing habits and other factors that contribute to the dryness. You will need to explain your doctor - since when you have observed the changes, the medicines you are taking, etc.

If he suspects skin infection or the dryness a consequence of hormonal problems, then you have to undergo some confirmatory blood tests.

Treatment of Dry Skin

If the test results are positive for skin diseases, then prescription drugs, medicated ointments, lotions, etc. are given to cure the problem. Hydrocortisone lotions are often prescribed to get rid of dryness. During the tenure of treatment your doctor might advice you to stop using all other cosmetic products except the ones suggested by him.

Vitamin E capsules help to moisturize the skin. If the problem is normal, then home remedies are the solution to it.

Home Remedies for Dry Skin

  • Cover your skin while stepping out in the sun and avoid taking frequent hot showers
  • Massage your body with vitamin E oils, almond, coconut or olive oil after taking bath
  • Look for moisturizers containing lanolin, petroleum jelly, ceramides, alpha hydroxy acids, glycerine and mineral oils. Do not use alcohol based cosmetics
  • Keep your skin always moisturized, especially while working in AC. You can keep a humidifier in your room
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Incorporate foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, etc.

Listen to your dermatologist’s advice to regain the lost glory of your skin. Take care!

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 16, 2015