Thinking Out Loud

…on all things wise and wonderful.

5 Common Causes of Dry Skin and How to Avoid Them


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A lot has been said about oily skin. A copious amount of information is available on the subject and much research has been conducted to find treatments and cures for it. So aware are we of the menace of oily skin that a person need only mention that she has oily skin, than we readily sympathize with her. Contrary to this, not much is said about dry skin. Most of us don’t look at it as a problem in the first place. If someone had to tell you that they suffered from dry skin, you would probably say, “How do you suffer from dry skin? It can’t be such a dreadful thing.”

Well, it is true that individuals with dry skin don’t suffer from repeated breakouts and other problems that plague people with oily skin. But, dry skin sufferers have to deal with a host of equally annoying issues like rough, itchy skin, red patches and sometimes even cracks and fissures, which are very painful. Dry itchy skin could lead to the ‘itch-scratch’ cycle, wherein, a person feels itchy and so, scratches herself. This exacerbates the itch, causing the person to feel itchier. Repeated scratching results in inflammation of skin, which can be immensely painful.

If you do experience the above-mentioned symptoms, you have dry skin. It is not the occasional dryness that most people experience during winter, but a problem that you might experience the year round. This is because your sebaceous glands secrete a lesser amount of sebum and your skin isn’t able to retain enough moisture. What then, are the causes of dry skin? Here are a couple of reasons that will help shed some light on the problem of dry skin:

Harsh, harmful soaps:

Many soaps, especially deodorant bar soaps, contain detergents that rob your skin of its natural oils. This leaves your skin feeling dry and sensitive. You need to be especially careful while washing clothes and utensils too as these detergent soaps and soap powders and very harmful to your skin. Similarly, washing your hands or face too often with a soap or face wash can leave your skin feeling dry and itchy.

To protect your skin, wear gloves while doing the dishes or washing clothes. Use a fragrance-free, moisturizing body wash or shower gel instead of a bar of soap. Moisturize your hands and face with a good body lotion after washing.

Frequent, hot showers:

Steaming hot water dries out your skin. The combination of hot water and a harsh soap is worse as it strips the layer of natural oil from your skin. Without this layer of oil, moisture escapes from your skin, leaving it dry. The longer you take in the shower, the drier your skin will get.

The solution is to bathe in lukewarm water instead of very hot water. Also, don’t take very long showers; restrict them to around ten minutes. After bathing, avoid rubbing your body with a rough towel. Instead, pat yourself dry using a soft towel. Apply a moisturizing lotion on your body when your skin is still damp.

Ailments like hypothyroidism and diabetes:

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid glands reduce their production and secretion of thyroid hormones. The reduction in thyroid hormones effects the functioning of oil and sweat glands. This causes skin to become dry. Sometimes, the dryness is so extreme that palms and soles become thick and dry. Similarly, dryness of skin is one of the earliest symptoms of diabetes. Increase in blood sugar levels results in poor circulation and this causes skin to become dry. Diabetes also increases the urge to urinate, leading to dehydration.

Under both these circumstances, it is important that you seek medical attention at the earliest. You can also frequently moisturize your skin with lotions, creams and oils for temporary relief.

Sun tanning/excessive swimming:

Exposing your skin to the sun for long periods of time can damage skin. Harmful UV rays penetrate through the skin and damage collagen and elastin, leading to lines, wrinkles and dryness. Likewise, swimming for long hours in over-chlorinated pools will cause your hair and skin to become dry.

To protect your skin from the sun, apply a sunscreen with SPF 15+ and try to carry along an umbrella or hat to shield your skin from the sun. To prevent dryness due to swimming, apply a moisturizing lotion before and after you swim.

Improper diet:

We often forget to consume water during the day. This leads to dehydration which makes our skin dry. People also tend to stay away from fatty foodstuffs to avoid gaining weight. However, some healthy fats are necessary for our bodies.

The solution is to drink lots of water and other fluids and to eat ‘good fats’ or healthy fatty foods, like foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Foods high in omega 3 include sardines, salmon, mackerel, tofu, soya beans and walnuts.

These were the causes of dry skin. To find out ways to cure dry skin, read the following article:


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This entry was posted on March 5, 2014 by in Skin Care and tagged , , , .
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