Dry skin is one of the most annoying things that you can act against. It doesn’t look bad, but it can also be painful and itchy. Your skin is left looking flaky and sometimes scaly.
There are various reasons for dry skin. It can be a symptom of a medical problem, but there’s also the chance that it’s a condition linked to the natural release of oils in your skin. Our bodies are all different, and our hormones work at different levels. If the hormones aren’t quite right, they can throw the natural sebum production, leading to a lack of oil being produced, so the skin doesn’t get the moisture it needs.
One of the great things about dry skin is that you can take steps to prevent it causing a problem. It’s possible to repair damage and make the condition easier to deal with. While as a symptom you’ll want to tackle the underlying problem, you can at least make the symptoms easier to handle while you tackle the underlying issue. There’s some reprieve while you take long-term steps. Plus, if the underlying condition isn’t something you can deal with (such as an autoimmune condition), then you’ll need to ease the symptoms for comfort.
Before you start dealing with dry skin or looking for treatments, you need to understand as much as possible. Here’s all you need to know about it, including how to smooth your dry skin flare-ups.
Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin Aren’t the Same
When people say they have dry skin, some mean that they have dehydrated skin. The two conditions are not the same. It’s worth understanding the differences since they both require different treatments.
Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition that is often linked to a lack of moisture within the skin. The body temporarily reduces the natural oil production, which can leave your skin flaky and irritated for a while. You need to take steps to rectify this, and you will find that the problem is reversed relatively easily.
If you don’t get enough water, you can also find your skin becomes dehydrated. The body takes moisture from areas that need it the least when you don’t get enough through drinking. Your skin is one of the first places to lose the water content, leaving it dehydrated, dull, and slightly irritated.
Some of the products you use can also lead to dehydrated skin. The products can strip the oils and moisture from the skin, making your skin feel tight and itchy. By stopping the product use, you’ll find the condition usually reverses. You can also reverse the problem with the right types of products.
Dry skin is a long-term condition, usually due to a condition affecting the natural oil production. You can get flaky skin that products only temporarily reverse the condition. It’s important to keep using the products if you want the long-term benefits. This is often a genetic issue, which means your parents and even grandparents struggled with dry skin.
Many of us focus on the skin on our faces, but the dry skin will be all over. You’ll likely feel it on your arms, around your chest and back, and even in your scalp. The condition seeps into the layers of your skin, rather than just being something that mostly affects the top layer of your skin.
What Can Cause Dry or Dehydrated Skin?
We’ve looked at some of the common causes, but there are so many others. In fact, there’s no single cause of dehydrated or dry skin, and it can be something that is external or internal. The external problems are those that you’ll see almost right away and will be able to take immediate reaction. Internal dry skin can be something that takes a while to show up and a long time to rectify.
Your genetics are certainly to play when it comes to dry skin. However, your age and personal history can also be a problem. As we get older, our skin doesn’t produce as much oil as it used to. The skin then starts to dry out, because you’re not putting the moisture back in since you likely don’t realize.
Those with atopic dermatitis, thyroid diseases, and other medical conditions can find that their skin is drying out and natural oil production dropping is a common symptom. You can rectify the symptoms, but you’ll need to rectify the condition to get rid of the dry skin permanently.
The environment, our lifestyle, and so much more affects our skin. Cold temperatures cause the top layers of the skin to dry out, as everything seeps inwards for warmth. However, using the central heating on regularly during the winter can create another set for dry skin. Low humidity in the air is the major problem, preventing the skin from seeping in moisture from the air. Of course, central heaters and cold temperatures outside create the low humidity spaces.
Types of soaps and cleaning products you use can also have a direct effect on your skin. This is common if you use sanitizers regularly or alcohol/acid products. Cleaners, such as bleach, can also cause issues, as the skin will be stripped of its oils and moistures. Harsh soaps also strip out the moisture, leaving behind layers of dry skin. You’ll usually tell if the skin is dry from these types of products due to the way the skin feels afterward; it’s usually tight and uncomfortable.
If you don’t moisturize on a regular basis, you can find your skin starts to dry out. This is very common in women as we get older when the skin’s oil production starts to change. However, even if you have oily skin, you will want to moisturize fully. This can help to prevent the changes causing long-term problems in the future.
Medication has also been linked to dry skin. Acne medications tend to reduce the amount of oil your body produces to help prevent the excess oil. This can often cause the opposite problem. You can see the flaky skin on your face, especially around the T-zone. Allergy medication and those for high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels have also show dry skin as a side effect.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin
You may think you’ll instantly know if you have dry skin because you’ll see it flaking, but that’s not one of the first signs or symptoms. Dry skin can affect the deeper layers of skin first. This is a condition that can work from the inside out, depending on the reason for the dry skin. Often, the flakiness is one of the latent symptoms.
The feeling of tight skin is often a sign of dry skin. You’ll feel like you need to stretch out the muscles or that your skin could rip if you try to move it. This is common around the forehead and cheeks, but can also experience around the abdomen, arms, and even legs. You’ll get a sensation of friction around your body, especially around your elbows, ankles, and knees.
Over time, the skin becomes itchy. It can also start to form rough patches, especially around the tips of the elbows or along the knees and on the soles of the feet. At first, the itchiness may be irritating and the rough patches nothing to concern you, but after a while, the symptoms get worse. They start to crack and flake, causing some pain, burning, and bleeding.
When you scratch the itchy, dry skin, you make it worse. The skin becomes even itchier and you scratch more. This ends up with the skin breaking and tearing, rather than soothe the itchiness. You need to take steps to repair the damage.
For some, the dry skin can also appear as raised red bumps along the skin. They can open as wounds, but sometimes they remain closed and look a little like a heat rash. It’s a sign that your skin needs some moisture. This is common around the backs and abdomen, especially in children.
Your skin can also look leathery and thick. The skin layers join together and create what looks like scar tissue. With the right treatments, you can get rid of these problems.
The Best Ways to Sooth Dry and Dehydrated Skin
You don’t need to see a doctor right away in most of the cases unless your dry skin is linked to a medical condition or medication. There are steps you can take at home to repair and soothe your dry skin.
The first is to assess the soap you’re using. If it’s harsh, then it’s a sign your skin isn’t dealing well with it. You’ll want to switch to something more nourishing and moisturizing. Skip the bar soaps and the foamy ones. Look out for oil-based cleansers, which will help to add more moisture to your skin, while cleansing your pores. Mineral oil can be good for dehydrated skin but may not be strong enough for dry skin.
A moisturizing cream is a must when dealing with dry skin. This can prevent problems persisting and getting worse, especially if you are starting to see your skin type change over time. Moisturizing daily will help to prevent the loss of water and soothe the feeling of itchiness.
If your dry skin is genetic, you’ll want to consider oil-based moisturizing creams. Coconut oil can be one of the best natural treatments, as it soaks deep into the layers of the skin, especially overnight. However, if you have dehydrated skin, look out for a light moisturizing cream; something created for the mild dry skin.
You can also opt for Vaseline or something similar for the severe dry skin. The treatments stick around for a longer period, soaking in throughout the day. Many celebrities use Vaseline around the eyes, which is a highly common area to lose moisture and will show the earliest of signs.
Sometimes you will need to speak to your doctor. Steroid creams may be required to help tackle the deeper damage or avoid issues with medications or medical issues. Hydrocortisone cream is one of the most common creams prescribed at first, as it’s a mild strength cream. However, you may be prescribed fluocinonide, which is a strong cream for the most severe issues.
The high strength creams will only be used for short-term use. They can lead to skin thinning and breaking down, along with stretch marks if used for too long. They’re also not usually prescribed for the face, due to adverse side effects.
Whatever types of creams and treatments you use, think about the heat and humidity in your home. Dry heat is one of the most common reasons for dehydrated skin. By getting a humidifier in the home, you can add the moisture back in. This doesn’t help to improve your skin health but can also help to improve your overall health.
It’s also worth looking at changing the temperature of the water when you wash. Hot water will cause the skin to sweat, so it loses its moisture. Opt for warm water instead, so you still clean but you don’t lose as much moisture.
Clothing can be a problem, especially if you use wool. Opt for cotton or other natural fibers. They’re gentler on the skin, so will help to soothe skin issues.
Of course, don’t forget to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. You want to aim for 2lts of water per day, which is about eight glasses. This doesn’t have to be plain water. You can get it through tea, coffee, sodas, and even flavored water. Plain water (or with some fruit for flavoring) is one of the best options for the health, as it has no calories and no additives. When your body is hydrated, it doesn’t need to pull the water from elsewhere.
It’s Time to Repair Dry Skin
You don’t have to live with dry skin. If you leave it to get worse, you can end up with cracked and infected sections of the skin. The best thing you can do is use a moisturizing cream on a daily basis. Make this the first thing you apply before your makeup to protect the pores and encourage more moisture in the skin.
Think about making some changes to your lifestyle to improve your skin health. If you do have a medical condition or are taking medication that causes dry skin, talk to your doctor about your options. There are some extra strength treatments available for the long and short-term.