Dry skin makes the skin look and feel rough, itchy, flaky or scaly. The skin from your scalp to your feet can be dry. It's a common condition that affects people of all ages.
Dry skin, also known as xerosis or xeroderma, has many causes, including diabetes, psoriasis, cold or dry weather, sun damage, harsh soaps, and over-bathing.
You can do a lot on your own to improve dry skin, including moisturizing with creams and lotions that replace the moisture lost from skin.
Dry skin can be permanent or temporary or seasonal. Permanent conditions like diabetes require a long term approach with daily skin care to prevent infections of the skin.
Signs and symptoms of dry skin vary based on your age, health status, skin texture, home heating and sun exposure. They include:
• A feeling of skin tightness
• Skin that feels and looks rough
• Flaking skin, with ashy look
• Scaling with peeling
• Cracked leg
• Fine lines or cracks on back of hands, neck and top of feet
• Skin that looks reddish on white skin and grayish on brown and black skin
• Deep cracks that may bleed and get infected
When to see a doctor
Most cases of dry skin respond well to lifestyle changes and using skin care products like factor X.
If over the counter creams and lotions are not helping, seeing a doctor can provide more insight to what may be causing your problem.
You should also see a doctor if:
• Your skin becomes inflamed or painful
• You develop dry, thick skin
• You have open wounds or infections from scratching
• You have large areas of scaly or peeling skin
Dry skin is due to loss of water and moisture from the outer layer of skin. It might be caused by:
• Heat. Central heating, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce moisture in skin
• Too much bathing or scrubbing. Taking long, hot showers or baths or scrubbing your skin too much can dry your skin. Bathing more than once a day can remove the natural oils from your skin
• Harsh soaps and detergents. Many soaps, detergents and shampoos remove moisture from your skin because they are made to remove oil.
• Diabetes and other inflammatory skin diseases
• Other skin conditions. Skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis, pityriasis rosea are more likely to have dry skin.
• Medical treatments. Some people develop dry, thick skin after undergoing treatment for cancer, receiving dialysis or taking certain medications.
• Aging. As people age, the skin thins and produces less of the oils needed for the skin to retain water.
Before After application of Factor X
Anyone can develop dry skin. Most common cause of dry skin are:
• Are over 40, as the skin's ability to retain moisture diminishes with age
• Live in cold, windy conditions or low-humidity climates
• Have a job that requires you to immerse your hands in water, such as nursing or hairstyling
• Use your hands to work with cement, clay or soil
• Swim frequently in chlorinated pools or water
• Have certain diseases or conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or malnutrition
• Atopic dermatitis (eczema). If you're prone to develop this condition, excessive dryness cause activation of the disease, causing a rash and cracking skin.
• Infections. Dry skin may crack, allowing bacteria to enter, causing infections.
These complications are most likely to occur when your skin's protective mechanisms are severely compromised.
Try these tips to help your skin retain moisture:
• Moisturize: Moisturizer like factor X cream seals in water to help keep your skin's protective barrier healthy. Use moisturizer throughout the day, especially on the hands. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating.
• Limit hot water exposure. Keep bath and shower time to 10 minutes or less. Use warm, not hot, water. Rinse and pat dry.
• Use a gentle cleanser or bleach free soap. Try a non-soap cleansing cream or shower gel. Use moisturizing soap with no alcohol or allergy-causing substances (hypoallergenic soap), especially if you handwash often. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Apply a moisturizing cream while your skin is still damp.
• Shave with care. Shaving can be cause drying of skin. Use a sharp blade and rinse it with warm water after each stroke. When done, apply high antioxidant moisturizer.
• Cover as much skin as possible in cold or windy weather. Cold weather can be especially drying to skin.
• Drink water throughout the day. Drink decaffeinated beverages as much as possible each day to help keep all your body's tissues, including your skin, well hydrated.