Dry skin: Causes And Ways to Prevent it

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For some individuals, having smooth skin is one of the criteria used to differentiate those who are deemed beautiful from others who are not. Generally, human beings try to make their skin glowing to ensure their splendour is not fading away. Odds are against women because, in our various cultures, women’s skin plays a significant part in appreciation of their beauty. A lady whose skin is extremely smooth is likely to attract members of the opposite gender in comparison to those experiencing dry skin.

Dry skin is a very bad state of the skin that hardly anyone would like to have. The Medicinet, a medical website that provides detailed information about diseases, conditions, medications and general health, describes dry skin as a condition characterized by a lack of the appropriate amount of water in the superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis. Dry skin is unable to produce sebum.

Everybody can be affected by dry skin regardless of age, though the condition is very common with elderly people. Xerosis, another term for dry skin can appear anywhere on the body, however, research shows that it is most likely to affect hands, lower legs and arms.

A person suffering from dry skin can exhibit the following signs: skin tightness especially after showering or bathing, itching, peeling, cracks, redness, skin that looks rough and grey and ashy skin. The state in which patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked and rough is known as eczema as per the Medical News Today.

What could be responsible for dry skin? According to many dermatological research findings, the following factors may be responsible for dry skin:

 1. Ageing

Dry skin is very common in the elderly than young people. A number of changes occur on your skin during the ageing process depending on factors like diet, lifestyle and other personal habits like smoking, according to the WebMD. The Skin of an aged person produces less oil, hence making it to become drier. In order to overcome this challenge during such as a stage in life, dermatologists suggest that you apply an anti-ageing moisturizer that has ceramides humectants and petrolatum, which restores lost moisture and repair the dry condition. It is also advisable to use a serum to revive ageing skin by boosting the production of collagen and elastin which make your skin to become elastic and strong. The Serum also does away with free radicals and fix damaged DNA.

2. Harsh soaps and detergents

Some soaps and detergents sap moisture from your skin.  Jeffrey Benabio, MD, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Diago said it is better to use a moisturizing body wash than a block of harsh bar soap.

3. Over-washing of your hands

People who frequently wash their hands, especially those working in industries can easily develop dry skin. This argument was supported by a study carried out by Piedmont Healthcare which indicated that zealous handwashing can lead to dry and cracked skin.

The EveryNurse, US-based nursing school recommends the use of lukewarm water while washing your hands instead of hot water, which sometimes can stripe the skin’s moisture. You should also avoid alcohol-based soaps.

4. Medications

Certain medications make your skin porous hence a lot of moisture is lost, causing dry skin. Some medications that cause such condition are:

Diuretics: These are medications used to treat high blood pressure, cardiac conditions and liver. They are known to be removing water and salt from the body.

Statins: Allow water to escape from your body because it makes your skin porous. In some cases, it can lead to dry skin rash and flaky skin.

Antihistamines:  Their main role in the body is to thwart the effects of histamines, common chemical messengers. They slow the ability of the skin to produce oil, making it dry.

There are histamine receptors on cells of the skin that stimulate them to release sebum, or oil, onto the skin,” said William Reisacher, director of allergy services at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian

5. Dry weather

During winter skin of some people becomes dry due to a drop in the levels of temperature and humidity. To survive during this kind of weather, experts at Harvard Medical School have recommended the use of a humidifier at home to restore moisture in the air.

Others experts propose the use of a heavier moisturizer with Shea butter as another occlusive to prevent moisture from evaporating.

6. Long and hot showers

Bathing habits like showering using hot water and long showers can contribute to dry skin. Experts from US Pharmacist say that bathing in excessively hot water or using harsh soaps or cleansers destroys stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin.

Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Downtown Dermatology in New York City says, “Limit showers to no more than five minutes and keep the water temperature warm, not hot. Afterwards, apply a moisturizing cream within one minute of getting out of the shower.”

7. Genetics

There is scientific evidence showing dry skin can be inherited. Changes in genes that influence the production of the filaggrin gene (FLG) can lead to skin conditions.  FLG gene creates a structural protein layer that maintains the epidermis and protects the skin against external infections.  Mutations in the FLG gene interfere with filaggrin protein, hence making the skin to become dry due to massive loss of moisture.

Ultimately, you can resort to home remedies and change of lifestyle to treat your skin well. However, if your skin is itching without rashes or you have cracks in your skin, you need to see a physician. Cracked skin can act as an entry point for bacteria.

By Samuel Ouma

Photo: https://www.okeeffesco.co.uk/dry-hands-winter-tips/