Does your skin feel dry and scaly? Are you ashy all over even after you’ve rubbed on body lotion?
Dry skin is an uncomfortable condition, leading to itchiness, scaliness and cracked parts on your body. This can happen for many reasons. Dry skin can start on any part of the body too. Even if your skin tends to be oily, you can develop dry skin from time to time.
Why is your skin scaly?
The outer layer of your skin is a mixture of dead skin cells and natural oils, which help it hold on to water. If this layer gets damaged and moisture escapes, or if your skin struggles to renew itself, it will become flaky and scaly. Exposure to sunlight, the natural process of ageing, harsh chemicals and certain diseases could also be to blame.
Your skin usually sheds about 40 000 skin cells every day and replaces them with new ones. You don’t feel the skin cells growing and shouldn’t see any falling or flaking either.
Different types of dry skin
- loss of moisture.
Very dry skin
If the dryness isn’t treated, and your skin loses more moisture, it will become:
Rough and cracked skin
Your hands, feet, elbows and knees are likely to experience:
- Extreme tightness.
- Extreme roughness.
- Skin cracks.
- Intense itching.
Common dry skin conditions
This condition is also known as the “itch that rashes”. When you have eczema, your body is saying that it’s working too hard. Eczema is linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritation. This is thanks to smoke and pollen, or foods that cause an allergy, like nuts and dairy products. You will notice rashes, dryness, flakiness, bumps, peeling, and redness.
This condition is when your skin cells build up and form scales and itchy-dry patches. You then end up with dryness, flakiness, peeling, small bumps, thickness, redness and rashes.
This is white, oily flakes of dead skin in your hair and sometimes an itchy scalp.
Ditch the itch
- Limit your time in the shower or bath to five or 10 minutes.
- Use warm rather than hot water.
- Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.
- Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but avoid using a lot of product to prevent stripping away the natural oils of the skin.
- Pat your skin dry with a towel.
- Use a moisturiser immediately after drying your skin.
Treat your skin
Stay away from deodorant, soaps and products that contain alcohol and fragrance to help your skin hold its natural moisture. Some skincare products will be too harsh for dry and sensitive skin.
Dry skin responds well to ointments and creams rather than lotion. They are more effective and less irritating on the skin. Look for oil-infused creams or ointments with olive oil, jojoba oil or shea butter. These will help soothe your skin and provide a long-lasting shield of moisture.
Good to know
Your hands are often the first place to show signs of dry skin. Wear gloves when you wash dishes, work outdoors and whenever you handle harmful substances.
When your skin is dry and raw, even clothes and soaps can irritate the skin.
- Wash your clothes, sheets and pillowcases regularly to get rid of skin-irritating substances.
- Use a fragrance-free washing powder.
- Go for clothes made of 100% cotton material to help your skin breathe.
- Stay warm and avoid the fireplace and heaters. Sitting in front of an open flame or heat can dry your skin.
When to see a dermatologist
Very dry skin needs special attention. You doctor may advise an ointment or cream. Dry skin can also be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. A dermatologist can examine your skin and advise on what can help to reduce your discomfort. If you’re uncertain, why not chat to one of our doctors? They’re here to help!