The medical term for dry skin, “xerosis,” is originally a Greek word. Xero means dry, and osis implies disorder or ailment. It is basically caused by the lack of moisture in the skin, which may occur due to an underlying cause (diabetes, hypothyroidism), the result of aging, or the influence of environmental factors.
Causes of Dry Skin
There are several possible causes of dry skin, including environmental factors and health conditions.
Environmental Factors that trigger the drying of the skin include:
- Use of harsh cleaning products
- Long hot showers
- The dry and cold atmosphere
- Use of heat sources
Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than he takes in. The body needs water to perform all its functions. In case of water deprivation, one’s body cannot work properly. Therefore, one needs to drink enough water every day to prevent complications, such as dry skin.
Eczema is a skin disorder characterized by itchy, red, dry skin. It can be of various types, including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, etc.
Diabetic patients are not able to regulate their blood sugar levels properly. It may go very high or very low. And dry skin is one of the symptoms of high blood sugar levels.
4. Kidney Disorders
Amongst various other functions, the kidney is responsible for eliminating excess fluids from the body. If these do not work properly, the body will not be able to establish the balance of nutrients, water, and minerals within the blood.
Kidney disorders lead to frequent urination. All of which minimizes the fluids within the body and may lead to xerosis.
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by loss of weight and the fear of gaining weight. It leads to malnutrition; hence it dries the skin of the patient.
Some drugs may cause disturbance in the body fluids, thus leading to dry skin. For example:
- Blood pressure medications
People suffering from HIV are more prone to xerosis than healthy individuals. Scientists have shown that this may be because of the following three major reasons:
- Adverse effects of drugs
- The way the HIV virus affects the defense system of the body
The majority of the cases of dry skin are treatable with either drinking plenty of water, use of moisturizer, self-care, or medical assistance. But if left untreated, it may progress to further complications, such as:
Worsening of dry skin will ultimately result in its cracking and bleeding. As a result of which the foremost barrier (skin) gets prone to bacteria and viruses, leading to infections.
2. Permanent Damage
Long term scratching of dry skin can cause persistent change to the skin, such as:
- Permanent itching
- Thick patches
Home Remedies to Soothe Dry Skin
Since store-bought treatments can be risky and expensive, the following are some safe home remedies that you can use to treat your dry skin:
Ointments, creams, and lotions work by developing a barrier so the moisture can stay. You must apply emollients several times a day. Oil-based moisturizers stick to the skin for a longer duration than water-based ones. They may feel oily, so you can try using them at bedtime.
After bathing, apply moisturizer to entrap the moisture within the skin.
2. Sunflower Seed Oil
When sunflower seed oil is used as a moisturizer on applicants’ arms, it boosts hydration, as found by a 2013 study. However, the same study also concluded that not all natural oils are acceptable as a lubricant; for example, olive oil damages the skin barrier.
3. Milk Intake
A 2015 research suggested that a diet including milk relieves dryness. The study further concluded that phospholipid, fat within milk, is responsible for enhancing the skin barrier in mice when phospholipid was added to their diet.
However, more research is required to confirm the similar effects on human skin.
4. Petroleum Jelly
Also known as mineral oil, petroleum jelly has been used as an emollient since forever.
In 2017, researchers found that the use of petroleum jelly has significant beneficial effects on the geriatric population. The reason behind its activity is that petroleum jelly creates a protective outer layer onto the skin, which traps moisture within. Hence, this helps in restoring the defense mechanism of the skin.
5. Antioxidants and Omega-3s
According to the Mayo Clinic, when the skin is dried, the exposure to damaging effects is more than the body’s repair system. But the good thing is that some food items can help the skin restore its activity.
Antioxidant food products can reduce the harm from toxins. Some of which are as follows:
Similarly, foodstuff rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon plays an important role in achieving glowing skin.
6. Allergens and Irritants
The material of your clothes is one of the triggers for a sudden onset of dry skin. Wool clothing, although natural, can bother your skin and make it even drier. Always look for fabric that is kind to your skin. For example, natural fibers like silk and cotton allow your skin to breathe without causing any damage.
Also, wash your clothes without wearing perfumes or scents as they can irritate your skin’s surface. Bathing in chlorinated water or sitting near a fireplace can be irritating to your skin.
Keep a check on what you are exposing your skin to, and try to avoid allergens and irritants as far as possible.
7. Wear Gloves
Hands are highly exposed to environmental irritants, especially when dealing with chemicals. Therefore, make it a habit to wear gloves while washing dishes or doing laundry.
Likewise, while working outdoors in the hot summer, your hands suffer the most harm. To avoid this damage, make a habit of wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores or running outdoor errands.
8. Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers add moisture to the environment to minimize the irritating dryness. Hot, dry indoor air can dehydrate your sensitive skin and worsen the symptoms of itching and irritation. A portable room humidifier is the best solution for adding up the moisture to the air within your home.
9. Adjust your Shower Temperature
The American Academy of Dermatology stated that most people are habitual of taking hot showers, which burns the skin and causes damage. Curing dry skin is as easy as adjusting the bathing temperature.
Moreover, one must also pay attention to his shower accessories. Some soaps within the market declare to repair the skin but produce the exact opposite action. Such products may enhance the hypersensitivity and make the skin thinner because of chemical treatment.
Taking short showers with warm water is the best option. Therefore, always search for gentle and no-fragrance soaps.
Gentle Skin Care Products
Some skin care products are too rough for dry, sensitive skin. So, “fragrance-free” labeled products are recommended by Dermatologists if you have dry or sensitive skin.
Look for the products that do not contain the following ingredients, as these are damaging to sensitive skin:
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
After following the above-listed precautions, your skin must feel better. If that does not happen, then it is high time you see a good dermatologist. Dry skin is a widespread problem. Persistent dryness may require prescribed ointments and lotions from a licensed doctor, and long-term dryness can be a symptom of underlying skin disease. A dermatologist will diagnose the disease and elaborate on several respective ways to relieve discomfort.