What Causes Dry Skin?
Out of all the skin issues that one could possibly encounter, dry skin is perhaps the most prevalent among men and women alike. Dry skin can be problematic both physically and visually. Although some people with dry skin aren’t bothered by the feeling of it so much as the appearance, those who are less lucky will often find themselves scratching away at problem areas and experiencing a significant amount of discomfort as a result. And while some areas of dry skin can be covered and hidden from the world, those with dry hands and facial skin will often times have no choice but to moisturize rigorously before leaving the house and simply hope for the best.
As the staff nurse and co-owner of Young Medical Spa, a Pennsylvania facility offering everything from body sculpting and shaping to chemical peels and facials, Paula Young has seen her fair share of patients with dry skin. While she agrees that there are numerous options for treating dry skin, she also thinks it’s important to examine the factors that can commonly contribute to dry skin, including the following:
The environment, both indoors and out
Although excessively oily skin can quickly become unattractive, human skin needs a certain amount of oil to stay healthy. Unfortunately, numerous environmental factors work to strip the skin of these essential oils, thereby causing dryness. One of the most typical culprits is cold winter weather. When skin is exposed to the chilled air and wind, it can quickly dry out and become noticeably cracked. To combat this, those concerned with keeping their skin in good shape can apply moisturizer to protect their faces and make a habit of wearing gloves to shield their hands from the elements. Of course, the outdoor environment isn’t the only contributor to dry skin during the winter. When it’s cold outside, the average person will want to heat her home. Unfortunately, most heating systems are notorious for supplying households with dry heat, which can just as easily wreak havoc on the skin. While moisturizer and body lotions can certainly help, those whose indoor air is exceedingly dry can help themselves by using humidifiers to introduce moisture into their household environments.
Just as the body needs water in order to stay healthy, so too does the skin require hydration in order to remain vibrant. While some people may be good about drinking water, others will barely consume the equivalent of two out of the recommended eight glasses per day. Anyone looking to avoid dry skin should therefore make a habit of drinking more water and avoiding beverages that only work to dehydrate the body and dry out the skin. These common offenders include coffee, soda, and alcohol. Along these lines, smoking cigarettes can also bring about skin issues (not to mention breathing problems and cardiac troubles galore). Anyone who’s serious about protecting her skin should quit smoking or pledge not to take it up in the first place.
Some people believe that their skin is somehow magically immune to the often harmful effects of the sun, and as such, tend to skimp on sunscreen or avoid it altogether. Not only can sun exposure cause the skin to burn, it can also cause it to dry out. Those looking to avoid the physical and social discomforts associated with dull, flaky skin should make certain to wear sunscreen all year — not just during the summer. These days, most moisturizers happen to contain built-in sunscreen, making it that much easier for folks to keep their skin in good shape.
Long, hot showers
Long, hot showers can feel good on many levels, but they can also cause the skin to dry out almost immediately. Just as cold winter weather and dry indoor climates can strip away the skin’s essential oils, so too can an extended showering session result in skin that is dry, flaky, and itchy to boot. Anyone who prefers to avoid this problem should consider foregoing a long, hot shower in favor of one that is shorter and lukewarm.
Improper skin care habits
Many people don’t realize how important it is to find the right products for their skin and use them in moderation. Something as simple as using the wrong type of soap can result in skin that is lifeless and dry. Additionally, cleansing and exfoliating far too often can all too easily damage the skin. Those looking to avoid such self-inflicted skin damage should consult with a skin care expert to learn how to choose the right products and practice the proper at-home habits. Sometimes, all it takes is a few minor adjustments to produce skin that is healthier on a whole.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.