Dry skin can feel uncomfortable. Common symptoms for dry skin include tightness, a feeling of dehydration, roughness, itching, flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines, cracks, redness, and fissures that bleed. Without care, the condition can lead to fine lines and wrinkles as well as more serious conditions. Assessing dry skin begins with the environment.
Weather conditions with low humidity such as winter or desert regions contribute to dry skin. This same concept applies to heating and air conditioning. Long hot baths or showers contribute to dry skin by breaking down lipid (fat) barriers. Swimming in chlorine-laced pools strip oils as well. Soaps and detergents have the ability to break down oils. Adding deodorant or antibacterial ingredients to soaps increase the drying effects. Sun exposure damages the skin with ultraviolet light. UV radiation breaks down collagen and elastin fibers as it penetrates deep into the upper most layers of the skin. Over time, wrinkles and sagging skin will accompany dryer skin. Using a creamy cleanser, non-alcoholic toner, dry skin moisturizer and eye gel for eye area moisturizing may help combat dry skin during dryer seasons.
Since the skin is the body’s largest organ, consulting a dermatologist is essential if dry skin becomes problematic. Such concerns include dry skin that does not improve with quality skin care, extreme redness or itching, open sores, infections, scaling or peeling. Common conditions associated with severe dry skin include atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and thyroid disorders.
Atopic dermatitis is a common eczema which causes excessive dryness. This condition often affects face, neck, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. Skin can look red, cracked and inflamed. Eczema can cause inflammation of hair follicles or folliculitis. The severe itching that occurs can lead to cellulitis; a bacteria that infects underlying skin tissues. Without care, cellulitis can enter the blood stream. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that creates a rough, dry buildup of dead skin that appears scale-like. Thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, where too little thyroid hormones are produced, reduces the activity of sweat and oil glands which creates rough, dry skin.