Dry skin can be a symptom of a number of different conditions. Therefore, the same treatment methods won’t always apply. There are some good general guidelines to take care of skin dryness. Yet people should always see a doctor if these things don’t work and dryness persists.
Some people experience dry skin on a seasonal basis, especially in winter, and others seem to have it year round. It might be accompanied by itching or rash. Some of the key causes of this condition include fairly constant exposure to low humidity environments, especially those who use central air or heating, take frequent long hot showers and baths, age (dryness increases as people age), sun damage, and exposure to chemicals in soaps and detergents. There are medical causes of skin dryness too, and chief among these is hypothyroidism.
The first thing to do to address dry skin would be to try to eliminate some of its causes. People who use central air conditioning or heating can help add moisture to the air with use of a humidifier or vaporizer. Bathing and showering should be done in warm water and should not exceed 10-15 minutes a day. There are now many wonderful alternative laundry soaps and skin soaps that have few ingredients and don’t contain tons of chemicals, dyes or perfumes. Making these small switches may help the problem.
Some additional suggestions for dealing with dry skin include using a simple moisturizer. Again, this shouldn’t be one laden with lots of extra chemicals, and some people use things as simple as olive oil. There is some controversy on the recommendation of using moisturizers with mineral oil, since many feel this may deprive the skin of nutrients. People can shop around for a variety of moisturizers that don’t contain this and can still provide plenty of moisture.
Another product that may prove helpful is an exfoliant. This helps to remove dead skin, which is often very dry, and reveal new skin. Moisturizing should always follow exfoliation.
When dry skin presents with itching, doctors have different recommendations on how to treat this. It really does depend on cause, but dry inflamed skin might be treated with over the counter hydrocortisone. This should reduce inflammation, and if it doesn’t, it’s quite important to see a physician. It’s possible a stronger hydrocortisone solution is needed, or that the treatment is not adequate for the cause.
Clearly, conditions like hypothyroidism aren’t going to clear up on their own. Even when people are doing all they can to care for their skin, it may remain dry. Doctors can determine if thyroid levels are low with a simple blood test. The condition is usually easily treated with thyroid hormone supplementation, and may improve look and feel of skin. When this condition is not present, doctors can look for other medical causes of dry skin.