What is Dry Skin, its Causes, and Symptoms

When we think about dry skin, many questions come into our minds.

  • What does dry skin look like?
  • What causes extremely dry skin?
  • How do you know if you have dry skin?

Dry skin is a common skin condition characterized by the lack of appropriate water amount in the most superficial layer of the skin. both males and females equally affected, old people are more prone to dry skin. Elderly people’s skin tends to have a decreasing amount of natural skin oils and lubricants. The affected areas of the body such as arms, hands, and specially lowe legs tend to be more affected by dry skin. Environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, have a profound effect on the amount of water retained within the skin. For example, cold, dry air when heated by a furnace will produce dry skin by evaporating moisture on the skin. Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing causes evaporation and dryness. Dry skin may also be a side effect of some medications as well as a byproduct of certain skin diseases.

Types of dry skin

There are several different types of dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis

poison ivy contact dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis develops when your skin reacts to something it touches, causing localized inflammation.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis can occur when your skin’s exposed to an irritating chemical agent, such as bleach.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis can develop when your skin is exposed to a substance you’re allergic to, such as nickel.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis

It occurs when your skin produces too much oil. It results in a red and scaly rash, usually on your scalp. This type of dermatitis is common in infants.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

It is also known as eczema. It’s a chronic skin condition that causes dry scaly patches to appear on your skin. It’s common among young children.

Other conditions, such as psoriasis and type 2 diabetes, can also cause your skin to dry out.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin

  • A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
  • Skin that feels and looks rough.
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling.
  • Fine lines or cracks.
  • Gray, ashy skin.
  • Redness.
  • Deep cracks that may bleed.

The itchy feeling may worsen the severity of dry skin. Itching can lead to the development of the “itch-scratch” cycle. That is, as a person feels itchy, he or she scratches in response, which exacerbates the itch, and so on. The itch-scratch cycle is often seen when conscious control of scratching is low or absent, for instance during sleep.

Causes of Dry Skin

There is no single cause of dry skin. Dry skin causes can be classified as external and internal. External factors are the most common underlying cause and are the easiest to address.

External Factors

  • Cold temperatures
  • Low humidity
  • Over-washing with harsh soaps
  • Overuse of sanitizers and lipid solvents (alcohol)

especially during the winter when central heaters are used

Internal Factors

  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Family history
  • Personal history of other medical conditions
  • Certain thyroid diseases

Medical Conditions Cause Dry Skin

  • Hormonal changes seen in menopausal women
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition (for example, deficiency of vitamin A)

 

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