Most people tend to get dry skin as the weather gets colder and dryer. Dry skin tends to be more prone to desiccation, chapping and cracking. Often, dry skin presents itself with a dry mouth and throat owing to the lack of hydration and moisture. Dry and cracked skin is more prone to infections due to the colonisation of microorganisms in the cracks. Such type of skin needs special care to restore it back to its former healthy state. It’s important to understand the causes for dry skin.
Some of the causes for dry skin are:
- Dehydration: This is caused due to lack of water in your body. It is usually due to limited consumption of water, or due to excessive loss of water from the body, through the process of transpiration. This occurs due to extremely hot weather conditions or exercising over enthusiastically without consumption of enough water. Dehydration can also occur due to certain illnesses like diarrhoea.
- Genetics: Genetic or familial factors have a significant role in the determination of your skin type. Natural dryness of your skin, despite a good skincare routine, is usually due to genetic factors.
- Weather: Skin usually gets dry during winters due to lack of moisture or humidity in the atmosphere. Even individuals with normal skin type experience dry and stretched skin during the winter season. It is worse for individuals with a genetically dry skin type.
- Harsh Skin Products: Use of harsh soaps, detergents or body washes rips off the natural oils of the skin rendering it dry.
- Hot Showers: Taking frequent hot showers for long durations can damage the skin, making it lose its natural oils and moisture. Swimming in heavily chlorinated pools has the same effect on the skin.
- pH of water: Avoid taking a bath with water that is too harsh or chemically treated as the pH of water affects the health of your skin. . This damages your skin, rendering it dry.
- Certain Skin Conditions: Skin conditions such as, eczema, psoriasis, xeroderma, etc. cause your skin to dry as well.
Here are some signs that you have dry skin:
- Irritation of skin
- Feeling of tightness or stretching of the skin
- Susceptibility to infections
Dryness of skin can be avoided by taking the following precautions:
- Consuming 8-12 glasses of water each day to keep the skin hydrated and moisturised.
- Avoiding the use of harsh soaps and products on the skin. Avoid using gentle cleansers and washes instead, as they help in restoring the skin’s moisture.
- Avoiding bathing with hot water. Use cold or lukewarm water if you have a dry skin type.
- Avoiding taking shower for long hours, as this can rip off the skin’s oils. Try keeping your shower time to around ten to fifteen minutes each day.
- After bathing, you must dry your skin gently. Always air dry or dry up with a soft cloth. Avoid using harsh towels, which rip off your skin’s oils.
- Moisturising regularly and taking good care of skin, particularly in the winter season, prevents the skin from drying. Efficient moisturising seals the skin’s moisture and prevents it from escaping to the environment.
- In cold weather remember to keep your skin covered in as well as moisturised. Use scarves, gloves, socks and sweaters to prevent the loss of moisture to the environment.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor atmosphere. This can help prevent dryness.
- Avoid the use of hard water while bathing because hard water is irritating to the skin and can causes dryness.
- Avoid swimming in chlorinated pools.
- Use of rubber gloves while washing or doing the dishes, prevents dryness of skin, as it avoids prolonged exposure to water and detergents.
- Avoiding prolonged sun exposure prevents excessive perspiration.
- While going out in the sun, a good quality sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and above must be used in good amounts.
- Consuming a diet rich in Vitamin A, E and Omega 3 fatty acids keeps the skin healthy and moisturised. Consume foods like salmon, almonds, olive oil, carrots, kale, etc. to avoid dry skin.
Treatment options for dry skin:
- The most effective treatment for dry skin is moisturising. A good quality moisturiser must be gently rubbed and massaged into the skin. This helps in sealing and restoring the skin’s moistures. Moisturising is most effective immediately after a shower, to lock in additional moisture. It helps to moisturise at night if you are someone with extremely dry skin.
- Gently exfoliating the skin helps in removing dead skin cells and cracks on your skin. By removing dead skin cells, exfoliation promotes a healthy growth cycle of the skin. Exfoliate your skin twice a week but remember exfoliating too often can be damaging to your skin.
- Use a hydrating lip-balm and avoid licking or biting your lips when you feel dry. Resort to a good lip-balm and drink loads of fluids to prevent dry lips.
If the above precautions and treatments are carefully followed, dry skin can be easily managed at home. If the skin remains dry even after taking good care, it points towards a considerable underlying cause, like eczema or psoriasis. A dermatologist must be consulted for the specific diagnosis and management of such a cause.
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