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May 10, 2010

Dry Skin

Dry skin is a common skin condition that can affect anyone at any age. There are many causes of dry skin ranging from environmental factors to pathological diseases that can present with dry skin.

Causes include:

  • Part of the aging process in which dryness of the skin happens due to decreased oil production by the oil glands.
  • Environmental factors: exposure to hot or cold weather especially when there is low humidity.
  • Showering or bathing excessively in hot water.
  • Some soaps and detergents and clothes may lead to dry skin.
  • Central heating and air conditioning may contribute to dry skin.
  • Pathological conditions such as in hypothyroidism (decrease function of the thyroid gland), diabetes and others.
  • Certain drugs may cause dry skin.
  • Inherited disorder.

Features of dry skin:

  • Itchy, dry, and irritated.
  • Red and painful.
  • Scaling, eczematous or fissuring.
  • Bleeding from the fissures.

Treatment includes:

  • Use emollients, moisturizing creams or ointments that don't contain alcohol.
  • Try to recognize and avoid factors that precipitate skin dryness.
  • Using showers is better than baths, using warm water instead of hot water.
  • Use skin cleansers that are mild and don't contain soap.
  • Keeping the body hydrated (drink water).
  • Avoid irritants that may worsen the symptoms.
  • In winter, wear protective clothes such as hats and gloves to protect the skin.
  • Medications may be prescribed in some cases such as topical steroids.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.