Dry skin can occur at any age and fOI many reasons. In general, skin becomes drier as we age; it is drier in winter months than in summer months, and drier in low-humidity climates such as Arizona than in high-humidity climates such as Florida .
Skin is not dry because it lacks oil, but because it lacks water. Therefore all treatments are aimed at replacing water in the skin and the environment.
Below are some helpful tips and daily routines to follow that prevent and treat the bothersome aspects of dry skin.
Dry Skin Care Tips
Bathing or Showering Should Be Brief Prolonged showers or baths hydrate your skin, but the process of drying your skin after the shower or bath with towels or evaporation can leave your skin less hydrated than before you started. Therefore, bathing and showering should be kept between 5-10 minutes in warm water.
Avoid Hot Water – Hot water removes your natural skin oils more quickly.
Use a Mild Soap – Soaps can be drying to the skin. Try to use a mild, superfatted soap or non-soap cleanser.
Do Not Rub to Dry Your Skin After Bathing Instead pat your skin dry with a towel.
Moisturize Immediately – Apply a lotion or cream right after bathing while your skin is still moist. This will make bathing a moisturizing experience, rather than a drying experience for your skin. When you let your skin become completely dry after washing, some of the skin’s natura] moisture is lost through evaporation. Apply lotion or cream throughout the day as needed.
Sharpen Up On Shaving – To minimize the irritating effects of shaving (face or legs) on already dry skin, make sure you use a lubricating agent like shaving cream before you start, change blades often, and shave In the direction that the hair grows.
For more severe dryness a prescription or non-prescription urea or lactic acid based product may be used.
Consequences of Dry Skin
In some people, areas of seriously dry skin can lead to a condition called dermatitis. Dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the skin. When dermatitis is present, your dermatologist may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment (cortisone).
The corticosteroid cream is applied to the affected areas to treat the problem. Discontinue when the dermatitis clears up. The use of a moisturizing lotion or cream should be continued to help avoid recurrences.
Keeping your skin well moisturized should improve dry skin. If your skin worsens despite using the self-care measures above, contact your dermatologist.
Keratosis pilaris is a common condition. Up to 40% of the population have this condition. It is characterized by tiny bumps usually found on the outer areas of the upper arms, thighs, and cheeks that give a sandpaper type of texture to the skin in these areas. It is characterized by fleshcolored to slightly red, rough, little bumps. Keratosis pilaris is occasionally itchy, but otherwise it is only significant cosmetically.
It is caused by a plug of dead skin cells that forms at the site of a hair follicle. Keratosis pilaris is usually worse during the winter months than the summer months. In summer months, the increase in humidity leaves skin less dry, and the red coloration becomes somewhat camouflaged. It is commonly seen in children and young adults, but may continue later in life.
Keratosis pilaris is a benign condition and treatment is usually only necessary for cosmetic reasons.
Lubricants may help with the dryness, but do not tend to clear the bumps.
Mild peeling agents are most effective in opening the plugged hair follicles by removing the excess skin. Each affected person may respond differently to therapies, but urea preparations, lactic acid creams, and topical retinoids are the most commonly used therapies. Because this is a condition that is inherited, treatment only works temporarily. Therapy must be continued on a regular basis or the keratosis pilaris recurs. Some patients respond better than others.