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How to Get Rid of Dry Skin: 5 Solutions that work

Updated on April 4, 2013

What causes dry skin?

There are a number of factors that can result in people developing dry skin. They can be broadly classified into non-medical cause and medical causes.

1. Non medical causes

These usually refer to environmental reasons or causes linked to personal hygiene. For example, it is common knowledge that in winter, the lower humidity and the cold crisp air can dry out skin and sometimes lead to it becoming rather flaky and itchy. Certain soaps can also dry out skin, and these days many soaps that are enriched with moisturisers are available to counter this.

Another cause for dry skin is long hot showers. While there is no doubt that these are enjoyable, keeping the temperature to warm and keeping the showers short is actually kinder to your skin. The steam from hot showers can strip the moisture off the skin and contribute to dry skin developing.

Finally, another common cause is exposure to sunlight for long hours. Loss of moisture in the form of sweat can dry the skin.

2. Medical causes

A detailed discussion on the medical causes of dry skin is out of the scope of this article. Eczema is probably the most well known skin condition that causes dryness and itching along with flaking. People who have low levels of certain vitamins (such as vitamin A and D) are also prone to developing dry skin. The table below lists some of the medical causes of dry skin -

Medical causes of dry skin

 
• Icthyosis – Dry skin with a fish-scale like appearance.
• Xeroderma pigmentosum – Genetic condition where skin is damaged by ultraviolet light.
• Psoriasis – Skin disorder with dry skin with silvery scales commonly seen on the elbow.
• Atopic Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

How would you classify your dry skin condition?

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What is the problem with dry skin?

Other than being rather unsightly, dryness makes the skin prone to cracking, inflammation and redness. The base of the hair follicles that reside in the skin can get infected (folliculitis). Sometimes, infection can spread to the superficial and deeper layers of the skin and cause cellulitis. These conditions require treatment with antibiotics.

How to Get Rid of Dry Skin

Managing dry skin due to non medical conditions is simple.

  1. Applying moisturisers immediately after a shower is recommended as it penetrates the softer skin better and locks in moisture. Keep the showers warm (but not hot) and short (5-10 minutes). Use soaps that have a moisturising effect instead of a drying effect.
  2. Other measures include using a humidifier during the winter months which allows the skin to remain hydrated.
  3. In case of more serious skin conditions, steroid creams may be required to help soothe the itching and reduce inflammation. Input by a specialist dermatologist can be very valuable. In scenarios where complications develop, antibiotic treatments may be needed.
  4. Wear warm clothing and keep the thermostate down. The dry hot air dries your air out very quickly.
  5. Don't wear wool clothing anymore. Although this makes it harder to dress warm, wool's texture is very hard on dry skin and makes the condition worse, especially where it makes direct contact with your skin. Wear soft materials like cotton.

Conclusion

Dry skin is a common health problem. Simple measures and strategies can be adopted to lock in moisture and the keep skin soft, supple and healthy.

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