Dry Skin

What is Dry Skin?

Dry skin can be unsightly and bothersome to those that suffer with it. Dry skin can cause itching, fine cracks or lines, redness, deep cracks that can bleed, skin that looks and feels rough, a gray or ashy tone to the skin, and flakiness.  Often times it is a temporary condition due to the weather. Taking long baths or showers that are hot can cause dry skin, as can exposure to the sun. Those that use harsh detergent or soaps are at a higher risk for dry skin. Central heating, space heaters, fireplaces and wood burning stoves can all cause dry skin as well due to them reducing the humidity in the air. People with skin conditions such as eczema could also suffer from dry skin.

How to Treat Dry Skin

The good news is that there are many things that one can do for home treatments to help improve the quality of the skin. Try reducing the amount of time that you take in the bath or shower.   Limit the time to only 10 minutes or less. Or simply turn the water down a few degrees. If the skin is very dry and scaly, a doctor could suggest an over the counter cream that contains lactic acid or urea.  If the skin condition is due to something such as eczema, a cream might be prescribed in addition to doing home treatments.

How to Prevent Dry Skin

Avoid using harsh soaps and detergents.  These are often very drying on the skin.  Find a gentle cleansing cream. Avoid anything with alcohol, deodorant, or antibacterial agents in them.  These are very drying to the skin.  A great piece of advice is to treat the skin like a baby’s skin.  One could even opt to use baby cleansers and washes as they are not drying to the skin.

Moisturising the skin is one of the best things one can do for dry skin.  Thicker creams and lotions work the best for extremely dry skin.  One may opt to moisturise a few times a day.  The best time to apply a moisturiser is after a shower or bath when the skin is slightly damp. After patting skin dry, apply moisturiser.  Never rub the skin, as this will not help the dry skin, but could make it worse.   Baby oil is a great alternative to lotions and creams, or can be used in conjunction with them. Vaseline can also be used, but could leave a greasy feeling.

Using a humidifier at home can also help with dry skin.  Dry air can make dry skin flake and itch.  Running a humidifier in the home can help to put moisture into the skin by making the air less dry.

To prevent dry skin from happening, one can use a humidifier, moisturise the skin daily, take only one shower or bath a day, and use gentle soaps, cleansers and detergents.  Avoid wool clothing if at all possible and wear cotton or natural fibers.

If you have tried self treatment and the dry skin will just not go away, you may need to see a doctor for the condition.  See a dermatologist or doctor if the dry skin interferes with sleeping, you have large areas of the skin that crack and peel, dry skin that has redness to it, open sores or infections are forming, or the skin condition does not improve with self treatment.   The doctor will exam the skin, and will possibly want to know when the dry skin started as well as what your diet is, how you care for the skin, products that you have used on the skin, if anything makes the condition worse or better and what your bathing habits are.  Asking these questions will help the doctor advise a plan of action for your dry skin.

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