What causes it and how do I manage it?
Dry skin is something that we can all experience at times. It might be due to the weather, central heating or even the clothes we wear. We can experience dry skin on its own or it can be a symptom of a skin condition, such as eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis.
Healthy skin is usually able to stay hydrated. If the skin barrier is damaged, water is lost from the skin surface, causing dryness. There are many different things that can damage our skin barrier. Knowing what causes your dry skin can help you manage it better, to help maintain healthy skin.
Defining dry skin
Dry skin can be a problem on its own or it can be a symptom of many other skin conditions. Here are some of the most common conditions.
Dry skin triggers and factors
There are many different dry skin triggers, but the following are the most common.
Air conditioning and central heating
Weather and temperature
How to manage dry skin
Emollients are moisturizers that can help with dryness and itching. They can come in many forms including creams, lotions, ointments or sprays. Emollients should be applied to the skin regularly, sometimes even multiple times a day. The area of coverage and frequency will change depending on your symptoms and condition, the severity and which product you are using. Having well moisturised skin can help create a barrier which can prevent flare-ups.
Applying emollients regularly can help dry skin by:
- Filling the space between the skin cells
- Trapping moisture in the skin
- Forming a protective barrier over the skin.
Some emollients may contain extra ingredients to help control itchiness.
As regular soaps and cleansers can irritate the skin and cause dryness, it is worthwhile considering using an emollient or a soap substitute when bathing. There are special emollients that can be used for washing just as you would use soap, or you can apply your leave-on emollient as a soap substitute. Be prepared though – while emollient soap substitutes clean effectively, they don’t lather up like regular soap. You can also add emollients to your bath.