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Dry and flaky skin can be a normal part of aging, but often, dry skin can result from temperature or humidity changes, skin conditions, bad washing habits, and dehydration. People can improve dry and flaky skin with proper skin products and hydration methods. Finding the right products and skincare regimen depends on the cause of the skin flakiness and dryness.
Over-washing the skin can cause dryness. The skin has natural moisturizing oils that are washed away with cleansers and soaps. Experts recommend washing the face at night and a quick rinse in the morning without cleansers. Oil-based cleansers can be used to relieve dryness.
A hot water shower may be relaxing, but prolonged exposure to hot water can remove the skin’s hydrating oils from the top layer of skin and cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, and even flaking. Water temperatures should be approximately 84∫F. Showers shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes. Also, pat drying the skin after a shower can reduce irritation and peeling.
The winter air brings less moisture and dry and flaky skin. To prevent flaking, peeling, and cracking, experts recommend using thicker ointments and creams to moisturize the skin. Products with ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol can replenish the skin’s top layer and stave off a dry and flaky appearance.
Dehydration can lead to dry and flaky skin, especially in cold weather areas where water evaporates quicker. When the skin’s outer layer, or epidermis, doesn’t contain enough water, the skin begins to tighten up and become dry. Drinking the recommended amount of water per day and a healthy diet can improve water retention in the skin.
Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause adverse reactions on the skin by making the skin porous allowing moisture to escape. Common medications such as diuretics, retinol, cholesterol medication, and some acne prescriptions can have unintended side effects. Patients should consult a doctor if medication is suspected to be the cause of dry and flaky skin.
A range of skin conditions can cause dry and flaky skin. Conditions like eczema and psoriasis are characterized by dry skin, flakiness, and itching. Health conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and malnutrition can all strip the skin of essential vitamins and minerals needed to look healthy.
Most of the time, dry and flaky skin is a temporary symptom caused by improper skincare habits, temperature fluctuations, and other environmental factors. Even skin and health conditions that cause dry skin can be helped with the proper treatment. Dry and flaky skin doesn’t have to be the norm. For more information on improving skincare, consult with a dermatologist.