Dry skin is a condition characterized by a decreased level of fats in the skin, as well as reduced amount of water in the outer epidermal (skin) layer. The skin frequently appears rough and scaly, and it may even itch.
There are several different causes of dry skin — some can be the result of bodily conditions, and some can stem from environmental factors. Here are four common triggers:
- Weather: The lack of humidity in dry and cold climates prevents the skin from retaining its natural water content. Indoor heaters can also make the air even drier and worsen skin dehydration.
- Excessive skin-washing: Overexposure to water, detergents and alkali soaps can strip the skin of oil and lead to dryness. Moreover, contrary to what you make think, scrubbing the skin can make dry skin even worse!
- Health problems: Thyroid disease, eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis are just a few common health-related causes of dry skin. Malnutrition can lead to scaly skin as well. When the body is not healthy, the skin and oil-producing glands cannot work as well as they should.
- Old age: As we get older, our skin loses moisture as a result of weaknesses in the skin barrier, loss of water, and decreased amounts of fats that are produced in the surface of the skin.
So how do you treat dry skin? Limit the number of times you wash your skin each day, and use mild, soap-free cleansers. Always use moisturizer after cleansing and consider using a humidifier to increase the moisture levels of the air inside your home. Also, since the act of shaving can also dry the skin, following with an after shave balm will help to restore moisture and heal the skin. This should be done prior to using your face moisturizer. If necessary, talk to your dermatologist about other prescription options.