Dry Skin: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Remedies

This common nuisance that can affect women and men of any age and in different parts of the body

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By Rachel

dry skin

Dry skin is a widespread condition where the epidermis appears dehydrated, fragile, and often red and cracked. The causes are diverse. It can be a temporary situation, occurring only during winter months, but still annoying and unpleasant. However, there are also potential pathological causes that a specialist can identify. This condition can affect various parts of the body: legs, hands, face…

Once specific causes are ruled out, there are numerous natural remedies for dry skin that can alleviate discomfort. Let’s get to know them more closely, based on the various affected body parts.

Dry Skin: What is it

Our skin is well-equipped to resist external aggressions. A lipid film (a layer of fatty substances) protects its surface and allows water to be retained in the upper layers of the skin with a barrier effect, keeping it hydrated and soft.

However, situations can arise where there is a sensation of tight, less elastic, dry, and rough skin to the touch; basically, dryness. Technically, it occurs when the water and sebum content in the outermost layer of the epidermis is significantly lower than physiological parameters.

It can be a temporary condition, for example, when caused by winter cold, or constant if triggered by specific pathologies. Generally, it affects the skin on the legs and face.

The skin appears poorly hydrated, less elastic, fragile, dry, and often grayish. To the touch, it feels rough and irregular.

Of course, not all cases are the same: it can range from mild peeling to intense xerosis with the presence of cracks.

Causes of Dry Skin

The causes of this condition are varied and numerous. At the core, there can be unfavorable climatic conditions, such as excessive cold and/or lack of humidity, as well as the habit of taking overly hot baths or showers. The use of aggressive soaps, shower gels, or other detergents can trigger this condition, as well as some skin diseases like atopic dermatitis.

As there are many, let’s summarize the main causes of dry skin:

  • Cold temperatures and wind
  • Sudden climate changes
  • Wind
  • Low humidity in the living environment
  • Tendency to take excessively hot and frequent baths or showers
  • Use of aggressive soaps or detergents
  • Inappropriate sun exposure
  • Use of inadequate cosmetics
  • Intake of certain medications like diuretics
  • Specific treatments (dialysis, radiotherapy, chemotherapy)
  • Genetic factors (heredity)
  • Hormonal influences
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Deficiency of certain nutrients such as unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins C and E
  • Slowing down of skin metabolism with advancing age
  • Smoking, contributing to rapid skin aging
  • Dehydration, due to inadequate water intake
  • Exposure to chemical agents
  • Extreme weather conditions

Diseases and Conditions that Cause Dry Skin

There are also diseases closely linked to dry skin. The scientific term for this condition is xerosis. These include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Keratosis pilaris
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetic foot
  • Kidney diseases
  • Actinic keratosis
  • Sunburn
  • Skin infections
  • Food intolerances
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

Hormonal Causes of Dry Skin

Dryness can also be caused by hormonal factors. Estrogen hormones play a key role as their decrease is the root cause of dryness, thinning, and relaxation of the skin.

dry skin

Understanding if the Skin is Dry or Dehydrated

It is crucial to recognize the distinction between these two states. Generally:

  • Dehydrated skin appears thin and less elastic. It is not uncommon to see veins under the skin, marking it. The face looks tired.
  • Dry skin is arid and fragile. Often it has a dull complexion and feels rough and irregular to the touch.

What to Do When You Have Dry Skin

When it becomes a serious or chronic problem, specialist intervention is necessary. However, before consulting a dermatologist, you can try to improve the situation by adopting a suitable lifestyle.

Therefore, it is essential to prevent and adopt all those behaviors useful to avoid the problem of dry skin. Here are some useful indications:

  • Protect the skin from the cold
  • Avoid spending too much time in excessively hot or cold environments
  • Use a dehumidifier in case of heating
  • Prefer natural fabric clothing, such as wool, silk, and cotton
  • Avoid using aggressive soaps, shower gels, or other products containing, for example, dyes or other irritating substances like artificial fragrances
  • Avoid very hot and prolonged showers or baths
  • After washing, dry the skin well by gently patting it without rubbing
  • Apply a vegetable oil or a vegetable butter with high moisturizing power daily
  • Drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day
  • Always wear gloves for household chores, both when washing dishes and for cleaning, to avoid direct contact with aggressive detergents and hot water

In case of itching, cold compresses can reduce discomfort. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe cortisone-based creams.

When to Consult a Doctor for Dry Skin

If the above measures do not lead to the resolution of the problem or at least a reduction, medical intervention is necessary.

Furthermore, specialist consultation becomes mandatory:

  • If skin dryness is associated with redness
  • If discomfort and itching interfere with good sleep
  • If ulcers or infections occur
  • If a large area of the skin begins to peel or flake
  • If the skin becomes very thick

How to Treat Dry Skin

Before tackling the remedies for dry skin, it is essential to clarify that there is no universal solution because the causes are varied. Therefore, the most appropriate treatment must be sought based on the causes that triggered the problem.

In the case of dry skin caused by specific pathologies, it is necessary to follow the specific therapy recommended by the specialist.

  • Skin Hydration: To counter dry skin, it is necessary to intervene directly on hydration. This means drinking plenty of water, using moisturizing and nourishing creams, and avoiding excessive use of aggressive soaps.
  • Moisturizing Creams and Oils: Applying specific creams or oils can help keep the skin hydrated. Look for products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, and natural oils.
  • Avoid Hot Showers: Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness. Opt for lukewarm water and limit the time spent in the shower.
  • Use Mild Soaps: Choose gentle, fragrance-free soaps that won’t irritate the skin. Harsh soaps can worsen dryness.
  • Humidify the Air: If you live in a dry climate or use heating in your home, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • Protect Your Skin: In cold or windy weather, protect your skin by wearing appropriate clothing, such as scarves and gloves.
  • Healthy Diet: Ensure your diet includes foods rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseed, can be beneficial for the skin.
  • Limit Exposure to Harsh Conditions: If possible, limit exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as excessive cold or strong winds.
  • Consult a Dermatologist: If your dry skin persists or is associated with other symptoms, consult a dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and personalized recommendations.

Remember that consistency is key when it comes to managing dry skin. Implementing these measures as part of a regular skincare routine can contribute to improved skin hydration and overall skin health.

Natural Remedies for Dry Skin on Different Body Parts

The following are specific natural remedies for dry skin on different body parts:

Dry Skin on Face

  • Honey Mask: Honey has moisturizing and healing properties. Apply a thin layer of honey on your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
  • Avocado Face Mask: Mash a ripe avocado and apply it as a mask. Avocado is rich in healthy fats that can nourish and hydrate the skin.
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera has soothing and moisturizing properties. Apply pure aloe vera gel to your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.

Dry Skin on Hands

  • Olive Oil Soak: Soak your hands in warm olive oil for about 10-15 minutes. Olive oil helps moisturize and soften the skin.
  • Shea Butter Balm: Apply a shea butter balm or cream to your hands. Shea butter is rich in nutrients that can hydrate dry skin.
  • Coconut Oil Massage: Massage your hands with coconut oil, focusing on the driest areas. Coconut oil can help retain moisture.

Dry Skin on Legs

  • Oatmeal Bath: Add colloidal oatmeal to your bathwater and soak for 15-20 minutes. Oatmeal has soothing properties that can relieve dry skin on the legs.
  • Almond Oil Massage: Massage your legs with almond oil after a shower. Almond oil is rich in vitamin E and can provide nourishment to the skin.
  • Hydrating Body Lotion: Use a hydrating body lotion containing ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid to moisturize your legs.

Dry Skin on Feet

  • Foot Soak with Epsom Salt: Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes. Epsom salt can help soften and exfoliate dry skin on the feet.
  • Foot Mask with Banana: Mash a ripe banana and apply it as a mask on your feet. Banana contains vitamins and minerals that can benefit the skin.
  • Peppermint Oil Massage: Mix a few drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil and massage your feet. Peppermint oil has a cooling effect and can help soothe dry skin.

It’s important to note that individual responses to natural remedies may vary, and it’s advisable to perform a patch test before applying any new ingredient to the skin. Additionally, if you have specific skin conditions or allergies, consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist before trying new remedies.

Conclusion

Dealing with dry skin requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both external and internal factors. By adopting healthy skincare habits, staying hydrated, and incorporating natural remedies, you can promote skin hydration and alleviate dryness.

If dry skin persists or is associated with underlying health conditions, seeking professional advice is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. A dermatologist can provide personalized recommendations based on your skin type, specific concerns, and medical history.

Remember that maintaining skin health is an ongoing process, and consistent care can contribute to skin resilience and a more comfortable, hydrated complexion.

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