One of the biggest misconceptions about dry skin is that it's not a serious condition. In reality, dry skin can be more than a seasonal nuisance. It can affect you all year-round, causing discomfort and impacting the overall skin (and mental) health.
The skin is the body's largest organ and one of the most important ones. It is responsible for our appearance, temperature control, serves as a protective barrier against external elements, gives us a sense of touch and pleasure. However, when this barrier becomes compromised, it can lead to dryness, flakiness, irritation and even pain. Whether due to environmental factors, genetic predispositions or lifestyle choices, the prevalence of dry skin is a common concern that spans all age groups.
In this article we`ll dive deep into the dynamics of dry skin on the body, exploring its causes, symptoms and potential complications. From the impact of weather conditions to the importance of hydration and skincare routines, understanding the dry skin is crucial for finding effective solutions.
What Are The Signs Of Dry Skin
Generally, dry skin is a quite common condition that reflects the state of the outer layer of the skin - the epidermis. It signals a lack of optimal amount of water and natural oils in the skin, responsible for keeping it soft and well-hydrated. This deficiency can result in unpleasant sensations and conditions like itching, scaling, rashes, redness, potentially progressing to more severe concerns if not treated.
Usually the first signs of dry skin impact the parts of the body that are most exposed - the hands, arms and legs, yet it may also manifest on the face, lips and other sensitive body regions. Dry skin affects both men and women, but women and elderly people are much more susceptible to dryness, as their skin is thinner and loses moisture quicker than men.
If you are dealing with one of those symptoms, you most probably are dealing with dry skin:
Tightness and Discomfort
Dry skin often feels tight and uncomfortable. This sensation is a result of the skin's diminished ability to retain moisture, causing it to lose its natural elasticity and suppleness. Beware not to turn tight skin into cracked skin - the borderline is very fragile. And cracked skin needs special treatment and consistent care.
Itching and Irritation
Dry skin starts with itching and irritation. The lack of moisture can compromise the skin's protective barrier, making it more susceptible to external irritants and triggering an itching sensation. If left untreated, itchiness aside from driving you crazy, may cause an infection to the skin.
Flakiness and Peeling
One of the most noticeable signs of dry skin is the presence of flakiness and peeling. When the skin lacks sufficient moisture, it becomes very dry and starts to shed, leading to the formation of visible flakes. Flakes need to be erased as the affected areas may become an entrance to bacteria.
Redness and Inflammation
In severe cases, dry skin may lead to redness and inflammation. When the skin is dry, it can become more sensitive, and exposure to environmental factors or harsh skincare products may cause an infection. Don't underestimate these symptoms as they may signal an underlying skin condition.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Dry skin is directly connected to premature aging. Dehydrated skin is more prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles. The absence of proper moisture levels contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, essential components for maintaining skin youthfulness, elasticity and smoothness. As a result, fine lines and small wrinkles may become visible, particularly in the areas prone to movement, such as around the eyes and mouth, as well as on the neck and decollete .
What Are The Causes Of Dry Skin
Dry skin is the result of many and various reasons, in most cases external factors, and sometimes internal ones, that cause the skin's epidermis to lack moisture and develop deficiency in the necessary healthy fats, impairing the skin's barrier function and causing rough, itchy and flaky dehydrated skin.
Harsh weather conditions
Change in the weather is one of the most associated factors to contribute to dryness of the skin. Cold weather in the winter months has very low humidity, plus the low temperatures, affects the skin by rapidly sucking out the moisture of it and making it dry, tight and red. In some severe cases, if you don't protect your skin from the cold you may suffer cold allergies, rashes and intense itching, cracked and bleeding wounds that may get hard to get rid of.
As opposed to the cold, extreme hot temperatures can also be responsible for dry skin to appear. The hot air speeds the transdermal water loss and strips the skin of its natural moisture. If we add sun damage to the equation, we get a very stressed skin with lost elasticity, thinned upper layer, lost plumpness, dry flaky patches and perfectly predisposed to premature aging.
Low Inside Humidity By Heating Or Cooling Appliances
Sometimes dry indoor air can be as punishing to the skin as the outside conditions. Heating and cooling appliances draw humidity levels down, which consequently dry the skin even more. Make sure you track the humidity levels in your house to escape this hidden threat to your skin`s health.
Long Hot Showers And Frequent Hand Washing
Water can also be a drying conditioner, especially if you like to indulge into daily long and hot showers. Don't be tempted to stand in the hot steaming shower for too long, especially during cold months. You`ll very soon fill your skin tight, itchy and dry. This also applies to the hands - frequent washing strips the skin from its natural moisturizing oils and this way the skin won't be able to sustain its balanced state and will be constantly dry or even cracked.
Harsh Soaps And Cleansers
Squeaky clean skin is not always a good thing. A long list of soaps and cleansers contain harsh oil-removing ingredients which dry out the skin very quickly even after one wash. Immediately after washing you can feel your skin drier, itchy and uncomfortable. Fragrance is also an alarming ingredient to look into, as the heavily-scented washing products can be very drying and irritating to the skin. If possible, switch to milder and skin-hydrating cleansing products.
Environmental Factors And Pollution
Being in continuous contact with pollution in your urban or work environment, may seriously damage your skin and irritation is a subsequent effect of it. Chemicals, toxins, polluted air, artificial materials and hard water cause oxidative stress to the skin internally, and damaging friction externally. This harmful cocktail results in a variety of unpleasant sensations, including dry, red, flaky and uncomfortable skin.
Dehydration, Bad Lifestyle And Poor Nutrition
This is a no-brainer. If you are dehydrated, have a sedentary lifestyle and don`t get proper nutrition, your skin will be the first to suffer and show signs of dullness, loss of elasticity, and finally - dryness. Inadequate water intake is a primary factor to maintain a well-hydrated skin; good nutrition ensures the skin`s health and movement secures an effective blood flow to deliver the needed oxygen and micronutrients.
Medical Conditions And Medications
Skin-related conditions like psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis can cause really painful dry skin that is hard to soothe and cure. Apart from the obvious skin concerns, some seemingly unrelated health disruptions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, malnutrition can sometimes develop symptoms of rough, crusty and inflamed areas around the body. Medications and some substances also have a side effect of drying out the skin. Those can be acne treatments, heavy retinoids, some acids and topical solutions.
Aging And Genetics
Finally, we should not rule out genetics and the natural course of aging. Some people show aging signs more visibly and they get dry skin at an early age - one of the first signs of aging. If you`re over 40 you should start seriously taking care of your skin and moisturize religiously in order to escape dry and loose skin.
What Are The Consequences Of Having Dry Skin
Dry skin can lead to several consequences, ranging from mild discomfort to more severe dermatological issues. Here are some potential negative effects of dealing with dry skin:
Constant itching and restless discomfort
Redness and inflammation
Flaky and peeling skin
Cracks and fissures
Fine lines and wrinkles
Impaired barrier function and infection risk
Extremely dry, hard and rough texture
It's important to address dry skin promptly to prevent these consequences. This may involve adopting an appropriate skincare routine or in some cases, seeking medical advice for underlying skin conditions before the condition transforms into a permanent problem with the health of our skin.
How To Treat Dry Skin
Addressing dry skin involves a focus on moisturizing and nourishing the skin to restore its balance and prevent further complications. Aside from focusing on an intensively moisturizing regimen, we suggest you some practical tips to nurture your skin, regain moisture, and foster a healthier, more resilient complexion.
Hydrate from within
Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining skin moisture from the inside out.
Avoid washing with hot water
Limit your exposure to hot water, as it can strip your skin of its natural oils. Opt for warm water instead, and try to keep your showers or baths short to prevent excessive drying.
Humidify your environment
Use a humidifier, especially during the winter months or in dry climates. Adding moisture to the air can help prevent the skin from drying out.
Apply a rich and hydrating moisturizer immediately after bathing to lock in moisture. Look for products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or shea butter.
Seal the moisture with oil
Oils are amazing at adding extra hydration and nourishment, they repair the skin barrier and limit the transdermal loss. Choose an oil that is high in nutrients and leaves the skin silky soft - the best one is Organic Moroccan Argan Oil from Essence of Argan.
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