Dry skin occurs when the skin loses moisture and oil. It can cause the skin to crack, allowing bacteria to enter and infection to develop.
Signs & Symptoms of Dry Skin
Dry skin symptoms can be temporary or chronic and include:
- Rough or scaly skin
- Gray or ashen color in dark-skinned individuals
- Cracking with or without bleeding
Causes of Dry Skin
There are a number of environmental and physical issues that can lead to dry skin.
- Low humidity: Often experienced during the winter or arid regions of the country
- Aging skin: The skin naturally becomes thinner and dryer with age
- Strong detergents: Harsh soaps, shampoos and deodorants can produce dry skin
- Frequent hand washing: Medical personnel, hair stylists, housekeepers and others whose hands are frequently immersed in water and dried can have dry skin
- Certain skin diseases: Those with a history of atopic dermatitis/eczema or psoriasis are at risk
Treatment of Dry Skin
A trip to the dermatology clinic may be required to diagnosis your dry skin condition. Your dermatologist will likely be able to identify the source of the problem upon visual examination and symptom history. Depending on the severity of the dry skin, treatment may consist of:
- Skin moisturizers: Ointments, creams, lotions or oils can all be useful in treating dry skin. Your dermatologist will recommend the best moisturizer for your skin. Extremely dry skin may require prescription moisturizer containing lactic acid or urea.
- Topical prescription medications: Corticosteroid creams or immune modulators may be prescribed for inflamed or eczematous conditions. These preparations can be applied to the skin along with moisturizer.
- Lifestyle Remedies: Taking steps to protect skin by wearing gloves when using detergents or working in water, limiting bath or shower time, opting for mild soaps, using an in-home humidifier and selecting soft, natural fiber clothing will help prevent drying and irritation.