A women applying cream to her face

What causes dry skin and how can you treat it?

If you have dry skin, then it’s important that you try to discover what’s causing it rather than simply accepting that this is the way your skin will always be. By adjusting your skin care routine, you might be able to improve its condition and say goodbye to itchy, flaky skin once and for all.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin happens when the natural lipids on your skin are taken away and this is usually due to external factors. Here are just a few examples of what causes dry skin:

  • You’re using a perfumed moisturiser and applying it when your skin is dry
  • You have lots of long, hot baths
  • You’re spending time in the sun, without adequate protection
  • You wear itchy clothes which irritate your skin
  • You have a medical condition such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
  • You’re using a perfumed soap that irritates your skin or washing your hands too often
  • It’s a side effect of the medications you take
  • You have a skin condition like eczema, ichthyosis or psoriasis

Symptoms of dry skin

If you have dry skin then you’ll probably notice that it flakes off very easily. When you wash your face, arms or hands you might feel that your skin is tighter than it should be.

It might be that you don’t have dry skin all year round and only suffer in the winter months when temperatures drop. You’ll probably notice dry skin on your hands first as the skin can crack and become rather painful. The wind, rain and cold isn’t good for your skin, especially if you don’t wear gloves, a scarf and a hat when battling the elements. Spending a lot of time inside by your radiator or fire isn’t ideal either as your skin can become dehydrated.

Treatments for dry skin

Once you’ve figured out what might be causing your dry skin there are a number of different treatments. Most are extremely simple and require you to just tweak small aspects of your daily routine.

For instance, we recommend that you try to have warm showers rather than hot baths if you can. We’re not saying that you can never enjoy a long, hot soak ever again but if you’re drying out your skin it’s simply not worth it. You need to treat your skin with care so don’t be too rough when you’re drying yourself and apply moisturiser whilst you’re still damp, rather than when you’re dry.

If some of your clothes make you itch, try washing them with non-biological washing powder. If they’re still itchy, give them to charity and wear something else. You need to listen to your body and take action. If you’re a compulsive hand washer, try to monitor exactly how many times you’re washing your hands with soap and hopefully this will encourage you to cut down. Rather than using a perfumed soap, opt for a soap substitute or fragrance-free soap which is kinder on your skin.

Getting professional help

If you feel that your dry skin is a side effect of the medication you are taking for a condition then you should arrange an appointment with your doctor. They might be able to switch you to a different medication or prescribe emollients to help moisturise your skin and improve its condition.

If you’re concerned that your dry skin might be a sign that you have an underlying medical problem, go and see your doctor.

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Dry Skin