What Are Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Dry Skin-Dr. Badran Answers

What Are Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Dry Skin-Dr. Badran Answers
What Are Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Dry Skin-Dr. Badran Answers

Dry skin is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It is a skin that doesn’t have enough moisture in it to keep it feeling soft and supple. People with dry skin may have rough-feeling patches that flake off or look scaly. It may or may not be itchy.

What is Xerosis?

Xerosis cutis is the medical term for abnormally dry skin. A less severe form of xerosis is xeroderma or normal dry skin. While xerosis is often a temporary condition that leaves the skin looking scaly, it can also cause discomfort, itchiness, and inflammation. If left untreated, this condition can cause breaks or cracks in the skin and lead to bacterial infection.

Functions of the Skin

The skin provides a protective barrier against mechanical, thermal and physical injury and hazardous substances. It prevents loss of moisture, reduces harmful effects of UV radiation, acts as a sensory organ (touch, detects temperature) ,helps regulate temperature and it is considered an immune organ to detect infections .The skin is responsible for producing vitamin D.

Dry Skin in the Elderly

Dry and itching skin is a common problem among adults, especially with age. Older people are more prone to dry skin for many reasons: moisture-producing oil and sweat glands dry up, skin becomes thinner, with increasing age, the epidermis thins; the outside layer loses its ability to retain water and the skin becomes dry. In the epidermis, the numbers of melanocytes that protect against the sun decrease and the dermis becomes atrophic, losing its elasticity. In some areas, such as the face, shins, hands and feet, the subcutaneous level is diminished so that its functions as an insulator are less effective.

Age is not the only factor in these changes; skin may also be influenced by genetic factors and accelerated by previous lifestyle choices, such as sun exposure, smoking and nutrition.

Causes of Dry Skin

The tendency toward dry skin tends to be inherited and is more common in families with a history of atopy .When skin loses water too quickly, it becomes dry. This can happen for many reasons. Everyday things, such as using deodorant soaps and harsh cleaning products, can strip oils and fats from our skin. Taking long, hot showers can also dry your skin. Living in a cold, dry place dries the skin, too. When the skin continues to lose water and cannot heal itself, skin can become excessively dry.

Age, certain medications, and disease can also cause skin to become excessively dry. Certain people have a higher risk of developing excessively dry skin. People who have brown, black, or fair skin are more likely to develop very dry skin than people who have a medium complexion, such as people who have Mediterranean ancestry.

Dry skin is a possible side effect of several medications, including statins, acne medication, antihistamines and diuretics.

A job that requires you to frequently put your hands in water throughout the day or use harsh chemicals can strip your skin of its protective layer. Hairdressers, nurses, housekeepers, construction workers, cooks, florists, and metal workers often develop excessively dry skin.

When outdoor temperatures fall, the air holds less moisture and this can lead to dry skin.

Vitamin or mineral deficiency can cause dry skin. Skin requires nutrients to keep it healthy. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, vitamin A, niacin, zinc, or iron, you can develop excessively dry skin.

Smoking makes the skin dry. Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that speed up how quickly your skin ages, so skin becomes drier.

Some conditions that affect the skin, including atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis, perioral dermatitis, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis, can cause excessively dry skin. Itchy skin conditions increase the chance of getting dry skin .Many adults who had atopic dermatitis as a child live with extremely dry skin.

Anorexia, diabetes, thyroid disease or cancer treatment may cause dry skin. Kidney disease increases the risk of developing dry skin. Dialysis increases the risk because it removes water from the body. People receiving dialysis treatments also need to limit how much fluid they drink and this can further dry the skin. If you’re not eating enough, you’re not getting the nutrients your skin needs to stay hydrated. Excessively dry skin is common in people who are HIV positive.

Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Dry Skin

Our bodies depend on a good night’s sleep for rest and recovery from the stressors of the day. Because the skin is the largest organ of the human body, sleep is vital for healthy skin. Without regular, quality sleep, many people begin to notice an increase in fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity in their skin. The ability of skin to retain moisture, protect and heal all combat the signs of aging. Your skin goes through much of its restoration while you sleep.

During eight hours of sleep our bodies go through three distinct stages that contribute to our overall wellbeing – and aid in the nightly restoration of our skin.

In the first three hours of sleep the pituitary gland produces somatotropin, the human growth hormone. This hormone contributes to the maintenance of youthful and healthy skin. Without somatotropin your skin does not repair as well from day to day.

Production of the hormone melatonin increases during the next two hours of sleep. Melatonin works as an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damaging free radicals that cause illness and aging.


During the final stage known as REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), your cortisol levels begin to decrease along with skin temperature. Cortisol is a stress hormone. As the skin cools, our muscles relax and collagen production increases. Collagen is a protein found throughout the body. It makes skin more supple and smooth, easing out fine wrinkles. Good sleep that promotes collagen production allows the skin to make its strongest recovery of the night.

We naturally perspire more while we sleep. It’s the body’s way of rebalancing hydration levels by producing extra perspiration on the skin while we’re sleeping. This is a natural moisturizer that helps smooth out wrinkles. Lack of sleep also lowers your PH levels, which can also cause dry skin.


Dry skin is often temporary — you get it only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong condition. Signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health, where you live, time spent outdoors and the cause of the problem.

Dry skin is likely to cause one or more of the following: a feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming, skin that feels and looks rough, itching (pruritus),slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines or cracks, gray, ashy skin, redness and deep cracks that may bleed.


Possible complications of dry skin include rashes, eczema, and bacterial infections. Extreme dryness can cause the skin to crack, producing fissures. Secondary infections may result from scratches and skin breakdown.

Tips to Soothe Dry Skin

Use warm rather than hot water. Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes. Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, avoid using so much that you see a thick lather. Blot your skin gently dry with a towel. Slather on the moisturizer immediately after drying your skin. Baths and showers can worsen dry skin.

Apply moisturizer immediately after washing. Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains one or more of the following ingredients: Jojoba oil, dimethicone, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum or shea butter.

To relieve dry hands, carry a non-greasy hand cream with you and apply it after each hand washing. Use only gentle, fragrance-free skin care products. Stop using skin care products that contain any of the following: alcohol (except for hand sanitizer),alpha-hydroxy acid ,fragrance, including deodorant soaps and retinoids. Avoiding these products will help your skin retain its natural oils.

Protect against dry air, cold, dry air can suck the moisture right out of your skin, leaving it chapped, flaky, and even cracked if it’s severely dry. Our hands are often the first place we notice dry skin. You can reduce dry, raw skin by putting on gloves before you go outdoors in winter, perform tasks that require you to get your hands wet or getting chemicals, greases, and other substances on your hands.

Choose non-irritating clothes and laundry detergent. When our skin is dry and raw even clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating. To avoid this: wear cotton or silk under your clothing made of wool or another material that feels rough.

Drink water to moisturize skin from within. If you’re healthy inside, you’ll look healthy outside – and that includes having supple, moisturized skin. A healthy lifestyle is important, drink water, eat well, sleep well, exercise, and lower stress levels to keep your mind, body, and skin healthy.

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