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Dry skin : Diagnosis, Treatment and Prognosis

What is dry skin

Because of its high water content, normal skin is smooth and elastic. A minimum of 10% water must be present in the top layer of skin for it to feel soft, flexible, and "normal." Sebaceous glands in the skin generate an oily material called sebum to help prevent the outer layer of skin from losing water. Sebum is a complex combination of fatty acids, sugars, waxes, and other natural compounds that act as a water-repellent barrier. When the skin lacks sebum, it loses moisture and feels dry. The skin will shrivel and crack if environmental factors cause more water evaporation and overwhelm the sebum's ability to prevent water loss.



Xerosis, or dry skin, is a widespread issue in modern society that affects people of all ages, including babies. Most occurrences of dry skin in the United States are caused by one or more of the following factors:

Excessive bathing or showering, excessive scouring of the skin when washing, or harsh soaps that dissolve the protective layer of sebum are all examples of lifestyle factors that promote sebum loss. In certain situations, especially among school athletes who wash multiple times a day, the outcome is dry skin all over the body. In other situations, dry skin exclusively affects the hands, such as in health care professionals, food handlers, house cleaners, homemakers, moms with diapered children, and others who wash their hands regularly.

Extreme environmental circumstances can overcome the skin's natural protective barrier, which causes water to evaporate. This is a major cause of dry skin in those who live in sun-drenched desert conditions, particularly in portions of the Southwest in the united state of America.

Reduced sebum production — Because the number and activity of sebaceous glands in the skin tend to decrease with age, this is frequently a factor in the elderly.

In the northern United States, dry indoor air can also induce dry skin and "winter itch," especially in those who utilize forced-air heating systems. Frequent exposure to wind and sun among outdoor athletes can drain water from the skin, leaving it uncomfortable and dry. Because the chemical composition of pool water pulls moisture from the body, even swimmers might have dry skin.

Dry skin is a common complaint among diabetics and those with skin allergies (atopic dermatitis). It can also be a sign of hypothyroidism, renal failure, or Sjögren's disease in rare cases. Furthermore, dry skin can occur as a side effect of many medications, particularly topical acne treatments.

Symptoms

Itching might be the only sign of dry skin, but most individuals will also notice that their skin is flaky and wrinkled more than usual. During the winter, dry skin symptoms may intensify, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors, where the heated air is dry.

Diagnosis


You can diagnose most cases of simple dry skin on your own. Start by looking at your current skin-care routine. Do you frequently take long, hot baths or showers, which might be robbing your skin of its protecting sebum? Do you take many showers a day or scrape your skin with harsh soaps? Do you have work that needs you to wash your hands frequently?

Examine your environmental risk factors both inside and outside your home. Do you live in a desert area with a dry climate? Do you generally spend the colder months of the year indoors, in warm rooms with no humidifier? Do you cover your skin with proper clothes or sunscreen on exposed surfaces when you go outside? When was the last time you moisturized your skin?

Expected Timeframe

Within one or two weeks of starting to properly care for your skin, the flakiness and itching of dry skin should disappear. In many situations, a decent moisturizer will start to soften and supple your skin within minutes.

Prevention


Take the following actions to help avoid dry skin:

Bathe in comfortably warm (not hot) water using an unscented soap that includes glycerin or has a high-fat content. Scrubbing should be avoided.

If you're a sportsperson, take a short shower after an exercise or game. Warm water and light soap are recommended, since heavy-duty "gym" brands may be too harsh.

When you've finished your bath or shower, wipe yourself dry and apply moisturizer right away. Unscented moisturizing lotion is simple to use and helps to keep the skin moisturized.

When playing outside, cover any exposed skin. Apply sunscreen with a moisturizer if you can't wear protective clothing due to the heat or game restrictions. Apply a small coating of petroleum jelly to your skin before entering the pool if you are a swimmer who suffers from dry skin. When you get out of the water, shower, pat dry, and use a moisturizer right away.

Use a humidifier to raise the humidity level if your indoor air is dry during the winter months.

Apply a moisturizer containing at least one of the following substances as needed throughout the day: glycerin, urea, pyroglutamic acid, sorbitol, lactic acid, lactate salts, or alpha hydroxy acids.

Antiperspirants and fragrances should not be used excessively since they might dry out the skin.



Treatment


Start with the ideas in the Prevention section if you have a simple case of dry skin. If your dry skin persists, get medical assistance from your doctor.

When Should You Hire A Professional?


If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your primary care physician or a dermatologist (a specialist who specializes in skin disorders).

Dry skin that doesn't react to over-the-counter remedies

Itching that makes it difficult for you to work or sleep

Cracked and bleeding skin, or red, puffy, and painful skin

Prognosis

The prognosis is favourable in general. Making a few easy lifestyle adjustments may frequently avoid dry skin. There are a variety of calming and efficient treatments available if dry skin develops. The majority of them are available without a prescription.

Disclaimer:

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.

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