The average person’s skin should be soft and spongy to the touch, mostly due to its water content. The upper layer of skin should have at least 10% water, but 20 to 30% is more common and definitely healthier. If skin feels soft and smooth to the touch, this is known as a “normal” skin type. Healthy skin produces something known as sebum, which is a substance that helps keep it in optimum condition. Sebum is a mixture of different components, including sugar, wax, fatty acids, and other chemicals that slow down the evaporation of water from the skin. Dry skin, however, is quite different in terms of touch and appearance. The technical term for dry skin is “xerosis,” and there are several factors that contribute it. Many people all over the world, whether they are young or old, suffer from dry skin—so it is nothing to be ashamed of! The good news is that even though there are many possible causes for dry skin, there are also many possible cures. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common causes of xerosis.
Causes of dry skin
- A decrease in sebum in the body (as mentioned previously) is the leading cause of dry skin. This is more likely to be the case for older people because the functionality of the sebaceous glands naturally decreases as we age. There are other people, however, who remove their sebum faster than the body can produce it. This includes excessive scrubbing of the skin and showering/bathing too often. Housecleaners, nurses, and doctors are often prone to dry hands because of the amount of time they wash them, while athletes are more likely to get dry skin all over their body due to the number of showers they take in everyday life.
- Environmental factors also cause the water to evaporate from skin, resulting in xerosis. For people who live in particularly hot environments, like the southwestern US, this can be a big issue. Dry indoor air can also cause dry skin, and this is likely to affect people who use central air heating systems in their home.
- People with skin allergies or diabetes are also more prone to dry skin. The condition could even be a symptom for other conditions, including kidney failure or hyperthyroidism.
Diagnosing dry skin
Dry skin is something that is largely external, so it is something that you can easily self-diagnose. Dry skin is often flaky and very apparent to the naked eye, and it commonly gets worse during the winter months. Examine your skin closely, and if you’ve determined that you do in fact have dry skin, it’s time to improve your skincare routine and try a few different things that could resolve the condition.
Common solutions for dry skin
- A simple but effective skincare routine could be all you need to get rid of your dry skin. Do you moisturize your skin? If not, it’s time to give that a try! Apply a simple moisturizer in the morning and the evening to the areas of your body where you experience dry skin.
- When you take a bath or shower, use warm water—not scolding hot or cold. You could also use soap that is unscented and avoid scrubbing your body. After you have a workout, shower as soon as possible afterwards.
- When you are out in the sun, apply a sunscreen. In addition to reducing your likelihood of dry skin, you will also be protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
- After you shower, pat your skin dry instead or rubbing your skin, and then immediately apply a gentle moisturizer to the areas of the skin where you commonly get xerosis.
- Use a humidifier to bring some moisture to the interior of your home if you have dry indoor air.
Should I contact a professional?
A doctor isn’t usually needed to resolve problems with dry skin, but if your condition continues to worsen, it may be time to meet with your doctor or a dermatologist. You should see a doctor if your skin is not responding to any prescribed treatment methods or anything else that has been mentioned. If your skin is very itchy and affecting your day-to-day life, it is important to see a professional.
Healthy skin is an important part of feeling happy in your own body. A few small lifestyle changes will usually sort out your dry skin, so give them a try today!