Ten Surprising Reasons of Dry Skin25.11.2021
Itchy, dry skin is a sign of a lack in moisture. Where does this lack of moisture come from? Shari Marchbein MD, a dermatologist at Downtown Dermatology in New York City, says that dry skin can be caused by an impaired skin layer and dysfunction or deficiency of healthy fats. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, the top layer of the skin is composed of dead cells and natural oil, which trap moisture and keep the skin soft and smooth. Dry skin can occur if the top layer of cells isn’t hydrated enough, as could happen if protective oils are reduced.
Dry skin (xerosiscutis) is not a major concern in most cases. MedlinePlus says it is very common and can affect anyone at any age. It can appear anywhere on the body from the hands and face, to the stomach, legs, and stomach. Dr. Marchbein states that dryness can cause skin to become red, flaky, itchy, or itchy. This can be unpleasant, but there isn’t much else to worry about.
Sometimes, dryness can be severe, and could indicate a deeper skin condition or issue. (More details below). Harvard Health suggests that you visit your doctor or a board certified dermatologist if your dryness becomes severe enough to interfere with your work or sleep.
When you feel dry, your first instinct may be to apply moisturizer. While moisturizer can help, and you may notice some improvement in a matter of minutes, it is only temporary. It might be better to find out what is causing the dryness. It’s possible to be surprised at what you discover — there are skin dehydrators hidden in unexpected places.
This list will help you identify the cause of dry skin. Experts also have suggestions on how to combat them. Harvard Health says that you should notice improvements in a matter of weeks if you take care of your skin.
Ten Surprising Causes of Dry Skin
Dry, cracked, or irritated skin can be caused by not moisturizing properly. Other triggers include genetics, skin-care products that contain fragrance, hard water, and hardwater. Learn more about dry skin.
- The potential for skin irritation from fragrances
“Fragrance can irritate dry skin and make it worse,” Amy Forman Taub MD, a clinical assistant professor in dermatology at Northwestern Medicine, Lincolnshire, Illinois. Because fragrance can cause allergic contact dermatitis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it may take several exposures before the skin reacts. Or, you might notice a reaction right away.
Look at the ingredients for “fragrance” and remember that “fragrance-free is your friend.” When they are scented with perfumes, body lotions and creams can do more harm than good. Pay attention to labels. Lavender oil, and other botanical oils, have natural preservative qualities and can be used in cosmetics that are still “fragrance-free.”
- Soap may sap moisture from the skin and scalp
Gretchen Frieling MD, a Newton-based dermatopathologist, says that many soaps, shampoos, and detergents strip moisture from the skin and scalp. It is important to choose the right face washes and body washes. Jeffrey Benabio MD, a dermatologist from Kaiser Permanente San Diego, said that moisturizing body was better than harsh soaps. Joel Schlessinger MD, a dermatologist from Omaha, Nebraska warns against harsh detergents and fabric softeners if you have dry skin. Look for gentle laundry soaps such as Seventh Generation Free and Clear.
- Genetics can affect your risk of dry skin
It’s possible to pass dry skin on to your kids, according researchers. A study found that mutations in genes responsible for the production of the protein fibragrin (which plays a part in the formation and hydration of the skin barrier) can lead to several skin conditions. These mutations are found in approximately 10 percent of the population. They cause dry skin and a higher risk of developing eczema. Eczema is often caused by atopic dermatitis.
It’s important to moisturize daily if you have dry skin in the past or are prone to it. Joshua Zeichner MD, director of dermatology and cosmetic research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says: “Look out for ceramides or lipids in moisturizers. These help build and strengthen the skin barrier.”
- Hard water can prevent moisturizers from absorbing
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can cause skin dryness by forming a layer. Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist and surgeon in New York City, says that heavy metals can make skin oils thicker, which can cause dryness and irritation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investing in a home filter system can make a difference, whether it is a whole-house or attached to the faucet. Dr. Dr. Gross recommends skin-care products with vitamins A and C, as they counteract hard water’s coating.
- Retinol and Acne Medications Speed Up Skin Cell Turnover, Causing Dryness
According to MedlinePlus, although salicylic acid is great for treating acne, it can also dry out skin. Dryness is also a side effect of retinol. This happens because the skin’s surface cells are not connected properly. These skin-care heroes don’t need to be abandoned, but reducing their use can result in less irritation. Dr. Forman Taub suggests that you reduce the frequency of using the cleanser from every day to once a week. Make sure you use a gentle cleanser that doesn’t cause irritation and consult your dermatologist if you need a more drying prescription.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best frequency for you will depend on your skin type. Dr. Frieling suggests that you should consider burning, peeling and flaking as warning signs to discontinue using the product. She says, “This product is not for you to guess with or use trial and error.” Make an appointment to see your dermatologist. Bring the product along so that the doctor can examine it and determine if it is right for you.
- Dry skin symptoms can be exacerbated by dry air, indoors and outdoors
Sometimes, the indoor air can be just as harsh on your skin as the outside air. Frieling states that forced air, particularly heat, can lower humidity levels, which can make skin dry and itchy. You don’t have to live with dry and itchy skin all winter. A humidifier can restore humidity to your home. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s best to keep your humidifier at between 30 and 50% humidity. It’s also a good idea keep a mild, 1-percent hydrocortisone cream handy. Dr. Schlessinger recommends that you use it as soon as you notice signs of dry or chapped skin. According to MedlinePlus, Hydrocortisone can sometimes be prescribed. It reduces swelling, redness and itching, as well as speeding up the healing process.
- Zealous handwashing can cause irritation and redness
Forman Taub states that some people with dry skin simply wash their hands every hour. Piedmont Healthcare says that too much washing can cause dry and cracked skin. This is a problem for those who work in industries that require handwashing frequently, such as healthcare. According to EveryNurse, lukewarm water is best as it will not dry out your skin. Keep a small amount of moisturizers on hand, as ointments tend be thicker than moisturizers.
- The effects of long, hot showers on skin can contribute to dehydration
It can be tempting to sit under steaming hot water for a long time, especially in the winter months. However, this could cause skin problems. Frieling warns that long, steamy showers and baths can dry your skin. Marchbein recommends that showers should not last more than five minutes, and that the water temperature be kept warm but not hot. Marchbein suggests that you apply a moisturizing lotion within one minute after getting out of the bath. According to MedlinePlus, moisturizing creams work best for damp skin.
- Aging can lead to skin dryness
As we age, dry skin becomes more common. According to the Mayo Clinic, dry skin is more common in adults aged 40 and older. This affects approximately half of those age groups. Frieling states that as we age, our skin becomes less oily and drier. According to Penn Medicine, this could also be caused by hormone changes that come with menopause for women. How do you fix it? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you moisturize every day, or multiple times per day if necessary. Marchbein recommends that you look for moisturizers that contain ceramides, oil-binding agents (such as glycerin or hyaluronic acids), and petrolatum. These ingredients replenish skin moisture and repair it quickly, Marchbein says.
- Dry skin can be caused by certain medical conditions
Frieling states that skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can lead to dry skin. According to Harvard Health and Penn Medicine, dry skin can also be a sign of something unrelated such as diabetes, hypothyroidism or malnutrition, kidney disease, or Sjogren’s syndrome. How can you tell if dry skin is due to the weather, or something more serious? Frieling suggests looking out for redness, crusting, extreme itching, hyperpigmentation and rough, flaky or scaly skin patches. These are signs that you need to see a doctor. Your doctor will help you determine the best treatment once you have identified the cause of the dryness.