Dry Skin Condition: Causes, Treatment And Skin Care Tips

A comprehensive review of the causes, treatments, and skin care tips for dry skin.

Dry skin is a common skin condition that is especially prevalent during the cold season. This skin condition can either be external or internal. It affects both men and women. The older you get, the more susceptible you are to dry skin. Why do you get more prone to get dry skin as you get older? The human skin is covered by sebum, an oil produced by the sebaceous gland, which aids in the prevention of skin dehydration. As you get older, the sebaceous gland secretes less of these natural skin oils and lubricants, making your skin dry. You may either have dry skin all over your body or you may have it in patches in certain spots of your body. However, dry skin commonly occurs on the lower legs, arms, sides of the abdomen and thighs. Although having dry skin is not medically dangerous, it can be annoying and uncomfortable and of course, affects your physical look.

In medical terms, dry skin is known as Xeroderma. It is a skin condition where the skin gets dehydrated. A dehydrated skin is a skin that has lost its natural oil, therefore losing its protection. Thus, the skin loses moisture easily. As the skin becomes drier, it also becomes more sensitive and susceptible to rashes and skin breakdown. Not only that, as the skin dries, it loses its natural elasticity which can also result to other skin problems like increased stretch marks and wrinkles.

Dry skin is characterized by a dry look on the skin, scaling or skin flaking, and a slight tightness in the feel of the skin. It is often a mild , temporary condition that lasts for a few days or weeks. For some, it may also become a more severe and long-term problem. In severe cases, dry skin comes with severe itching, red or white spots on the skin, cracking of the skin, severe tightness of the skin, pain and even bleeding-a severe condition that definitely needs medical attention.

What causes dry skin? Generally and in almost all cases, dry skin is caused by external factors, therefore, making treatment so much easier.

THE ENVIRONMENT is one of the major causes of dry skin. During the winter months or during the cold season (in cases of countries where there is no winter), dry skin can plague you because of the lack oh humidity or moisture in the air. The reverse may also be true if you are leaving in a desert region where the climate can be very hot but the humidity level still remains very low.

Aside from the climate, central heating and airconditioning, space heaters and fireplaces also cause dry skin because these things reduce humidity in the room that you are in.

LONG OR FREQUENT HOT BATHS OR showers and swimming in highly chlorinated pools take away the natural moisture of the skin. This is because the heat from the water breaks the lipid barriers in your skin, causing it to dry. Hence, it is always better to limit yourselves to short baths or showers using warm water, not hot. After a bath, shower or swim, remember just to dab your skin dry. Do not rub.

 HARSH SOAPS AND DETERGENTS such as anti-bacterial soaps and other detergent soaps, like hot water, also strips the skin of the lipid barriers of the skin, resulting to dry skin. These are deodorizing and anti-bacterial soaps that make huge lather and make you feel squeaky clean. It is always better to use either natural soaps or mild soaps that are deodorant and fragrance free. It also helps if you keep changing your soap until you find the best one that is friendly to your skin.

SKIN CARE PRODUCTS AND COSMETICS with harmful ingredients such as pH balancers and mineral oils dry your skin. You may want to know that mineral oils are petrochemical products that are derived from crude oil which are bad for your skin. Hence, look out for and avoid skin care products and cosmetics with these ingredients.

UNHEALTHY DIET also rubs away the moisture on your skin. Like the rest of your body, your skin is only as good as the nutrients you feed it with.

• Keep your skin hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday.

• Limit your intake of processed foods. Keep a balanced diet. Always include vegetables, seeds, grains, fruits and nuts in your menu. Raw foods, except raw meats, are always better because they contain naturally occurring water. Just make sure that they are properly washed and cleaned.

• Take lots of Vitamins A and C because they help your skin in maintaining the available moisture in your system. Examples of these are oranges,  cantaloupes and carrots.

• Avoid junk and fried foods, chocolates and candies because they also reduce the moisture level of your skin.

• Limit if not avoid your intake of caffeine and alcohol because these substances dehydrate your body.

The major treatment for dry skin, apart from home care and lifestyle mentioned above, is regular lubrication. Thick greasy moisturizers without alcohol content work best.

In some cases, internal factors may also cause dry skin. Here are some of these internal factors:

• Aging, especially for women, caused by hormonal changes

• Medication for other illnesses such as high blood pressure, allergies and acne

• Severe skin problems that are related to dry skin such as psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, hypothyroidism, malnutrition, and Sjogren’s syndrome

These factors can not be addressed by simple home care and lifestyle. Only the careful examination and treatment from medical experts can alleviate your problem. It is also important to remember to seek expert medical attention when home care measures do not give relief, itchiness occur even if there are no visible rashes, scratching results to open cuts or sores, or the itchiness keeps you from having a good sleep.

Whether you have a mild or severe dry skin condition, there are many treatments available for you. What is important is for you to recognize what dry skin exactly is and what causes it. Never ignore your skin condition or take it for granted. You never know the severity of the condition.The treatment thereafter follows.

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Maria Cecilia de Guzman
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Posted on Sep 18, 2010
Kiran
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Posted on Sep 18, 2010