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Scaly, itchy and patchy skin? You may be experiencing dryness. Don’t worry, here’s all you need to know about dry skin, its causes and how you can treat it!

Highlights

What is Dry Skin?

The flaky texture of the skin characterizes dry skin. If your skin feels scaly, rough and itchy, it may be experiencing dry skin. 

What Causes Dry Skin?

Internal and external factors are responsible for dry skin. External factors are easier to address. You may be experiencing dry skin because of the following:

External Factors

  • Season
  • Humidity keeps your skin moist throughout the day. Low moisture in winters and cold climates may dry up your skin. 

  • Harsh Soaps/Chemicals
  • Soaps are emulsifiers. Scrubbing your skin with soap too hard may remove essential oils from your skin. Over washing your skin can soak up necessary oils as well. 

    Internal Factors

  • Certain Medication for Acne
  • Oral and topical medication for acne may result in dry skin.

    • High cholesterol, high blood pressure and allergies

    Dry skin may be a symptom of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and allergies (usually to harsh chemicals).

  • Aging
  • As you age, oil production in your body reduces. This is why older people tend to have more flaky skin. 

  • Skin Conditions and Health
  • Skin conditions like eczema cause dry skin. Health problems like diabetes and malnourishment can also cause your skin to get flaky. 

  • Family History 
  • If your parents and immediate family members have dry skin, it is likely for you to have it too.

    Types of Dry Skin

    Contact Dermatitis 

    This usually occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to a substance or chemical. (1) It is characterized by a red, itchy rash on your skin. Skincare products such as soaps, lotions and face wash can also cause contact dermatitis. 

    It is recommended to use dermatologically tested products based on your skin type.

    Seborrheic Dermatitis 

    Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition. It is determined by flaky, itchy, rough skin on the scalp and face. 

    The exact cause of this condition is unknown. Genes and hormonal changes may contribute to Seborrheic dermatitis.  

    Atopic Dermatitis

    Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin condition.

    It is characterized by dry and flaky patches on the skin and is a common phenomenon among young children. 

    Symptoms of Dry Skin

    Symptoms of dry skin include flaky, itchy and uneven skin.

    Symptoms of dry skin include flaky, itchy and uneven skin.

    The first symptom of dry skin is usually itchiness. If your skin feels itchy and tight on a regular basis, you probably have dry skin. Other symptoms of dry skin include:

    • Flaky skin
    • Rough skin
    • Red plaques (that may be the result of eczema)

    Scratching your skin too much won’t help. It may worsen the situation. Scratching too much on dry skin can lead to an ‘itch-scratch’ cycle. 

    Dry skin typically affects the arms, legs and abdomen.

    How to Get Rid of Dry Skin?

    Moisturizes

    Moisturizing the skin on a daily basis helps alleviate dry skin. It reduces irritation and prevents the issue from recurring. (2)

    Moisturizers keep the skin hydrated throughout the day. They trap the existing moisture in the skin.

    The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that one should apply moisturizer within a few minutes of drying up after a shower. (3)

    Moisturizers are a must if you have dry skin.

    Moisturizers are a must if you have dry skin.

    Honey

    Honey is a natural moisturizing agent. It is used to treat a variety of skin conditions including scars, dry skin and acne. Honey is also a popular ingredient in many skin and hair care products. (4)

    Honey acts as a natural emollient that increases water content in the skin. It relieves dry skin and has a soothing effect. 

    Aloe Vera

    Another widely used ingredient in cosmetic products, aloe vera works as a moisturizer. It restores smooth skin. Aloe vera is believed to have soothing properties. 

    Its amino acids soften skin cells. Aloe vera prevents flaky skin by sticking the epidermal cells together. (5)

    Petroleum Jelly

    Petroleum Jelly is a semi-solid jelly-like substance. It contains mineral oils and waxes. Petroleum Jelly is essential to moisturize your skin and make it appear soft. 

    Studies reveal that it keeps the skin moist and can heal minor wounds and burns. (6) It restricts your skin from getting dry and keeps it smooth and moist. Apply it after a shower on the affected area. 

    Oils(Mineral Oil)

    Topical mineral oils are found in the form of lotions and creams. 

    Studies suggest that applying mineral oils on the skin softens and moisturizes it. It acts as a barrier to moisture in the skin. Researchers found that mineral oil naturally hydrates the outermost layer of the skin. (7) This keeps the skin moist and supple. 

    Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil can work wonders to treat dry skin!

    A study showed that coconut oil acts as an emollient and improves skin hydration. The research also resulted in an increase in surface lipid levels. (8) Lipids are basically fatty acids that are vital for our skin. They keep the skin moist and hydrated.

    Olive oil and jojoba oil are said to have moisturizing properties. Sunflower oil is considered to tackle dry skin and eczema. (9)

    Vitamin E

    Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is vital to keep your skin healthy. Vitamin E is used as a topical remedy for dry skin.

    Benefits of Vitamin E 

    • Anti-inflammatory properties
    • Moisturizing and water binding properties

    Vitamin E plays a vital role in protecting your skin from UV rays. It helps minimize damage caused to the body when directly exposed to the sun. (10)

    Our body naturally produces Vitamin E through sebum. However, a lack of sebum production reduces the amount of Vitamin E in the body. Vitamin E has moisturizing and water-binding properties. This is essential to treat dry skin. 

    Foods rich in Vitamin E can also relieve you of dry skin.  Add nuts, seeds and Vitamin E supplements to your diet.

    Studies suggest that oral Vitamin E can help reduce symptoms in people with Atopic Dermatitis. (11)

    Vitamin C

    Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C 

    Benefits of Vitamin C 

    • Anti-inflammatory properties
    • Water-binding properties

    Studies suggest that topical application of Vitamin C reduces dryness and rough texture of the skin.

    Research shows that Vitamin C enhances the production of barrier-lipids on the outer layer of the skin. This traps water in the skin, keeping it moist and soft. (12)

    Humidifier

    Humidity is vital to help improve dry skin. A humidifier is a device that increases the humidity in a room or a closed space. This is effective during dry climates. 

    Moisture from the skin may evaporate during dry climates. A humidifier helps the skin retain its natural moisture by increasing humidity. 

    Oatmeal Bath

    Oatmeal is a widely used ingredient in many skincare products. Oatmeal baths are an age-old tradition to treat dry skin. Studies suggest that topical forms of oatmeal can be used to treat dry skin issues. Oatmeal can be used to treat eczema, rashes, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. (13)

    Colloidal oatmeal is nothing but finely ground oatmeal, suspended in liquid. Oatmeal is easily absorbed by the skin in this form. 

    Oatmeal contains Vitamin E, ferulic acid and avenanthramides. These components are vital to improve skin health

    Benefits of Oatmeal

    • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
    • Cleanses skin
    • Relieves dry skin, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, eczema and rashes
    • Soothes skin after use
    • Contributes to lipid regulation in the skin
    • Maintains pH levels in the skin
    • Strengthens skin barriers and traps moisture 

    How to Take An Oatmeal Bath

    Fill up a tub with luke-warm water. Add a good amount of oatmeal to the water. Soak in the mixture for at least 10 minutes. An oatmeal bath can be taken three times a day for effective and faster results. 

    Tips to Prevent Dry Skin

  • Avoid Taking Long Showers
  • Spending too much time in the hot shower removes essential oils and water from your skin. Take a bath with luke-warm water and avoid staying in for too long. Apply moisturizer within a few minutes of drying yourself up. 

  • Loose Clothing
  • Rough fabrics can irritate your skin. If you have dry skin, consider wearing finely woven cotton or silk clothes. Loose clothing is always a better option for those who have dry skin. (14) Tight clothes can rub against your skin and cause irritation, itchiness and rashes. 

  • Stay Hydrated
  • From dry skin to acne, water is essential to help improve any skin condition. Drink enough water throughout the day and stay hydrated. This will keep your skin moist and maintain its water content.

  • Eat Healthy Food
  • A healthy diet is vital to maintain necessary water content and enhance sebum production in the body. Foods rich in Vitamin E and C help maintain healthy skin. 

  • Moisturize Regularly
  • If you have dry skin, moisturize your hands and legs two times a day. Moisturize well after taking a shower.

  • Use a Cream or Ointment Instead of a Lotion
  • Creams are a better option as they soothe the skin. Lotions can cause irritation. Shea butter is also a good option.

  • Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals/Products
  • Harsh or scented skincare products can soak up necessary moisture from your skin. Use mild skincare products and don’t rub too hard.

  • Wear Lip Balm
  • Lip balm is an essential product to keep your lips hydrated. Wear a lip balm that doesn’t cause burning sensations. 

  • Visit a Dermatologist if Required
  • Dry skin is easy to get rid of. However, if none of these tips work for you, consult a dermatologist. 

    What Happens if You Don’t Take Care of Dry Skin?

    Your skin requires an adequate amount of water to stay healthy. If you don’t take care of your dry skin, this is what can happen to it:

    • You may develop more wrinkles
    • Your wrinkles will start looking prominent
    • Your skin will feel itchy and irritating 
    • Your skin may start producing excess sebum which can lead to clogged pores
    • Your skin will look dull, flaky and rough

    Taking care of dry skin usually isn’t a task. Your skin needs to stay as hydrated as the rest of your body. A few steps added to your skincare regimen can relieve you of itchy, flaky skin.