Dry Skin: Why it Happens

Dry skin is a common but temporary condition. Symptoms typically include:
  • Skin that feels and looks rough
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
  • Fine lines or cracks
  • Redness
  • Deep cracks that may bleed
  • A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
Although most cases of dry skin have an environmental cause, there could be other reasons for it as well. These include:
  • Weather. In general, your skin is driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels drop.
  • 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 and detergents strip moisture from your skin. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are usually the most damaging. Many shampoos may dry your scalp.
  • Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis are prone to dry skin.
  • Age. Older than age 40
  • Smoking. Not only does smoking damage your lungs, it damages your skin.
  • Use unscented skin care products. Scented skin care products can cause irritation to dry skin.
  • Apply skin care products immediately after washing your hands, face or showering.
  • Wear gloves outside in cold weather.
  • Put moisture into the air. This can be accomplished simply by using a humidifier or boiling water on your stove.
When to see a doctor:
After trying the treatments above and should you still feel no relief you should see a doctor. You may be prescribed a topical ointment or cream. Dry skin can be a symptom of a skin condition so it’s important to get it evaluated by a professional if it persists.

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