Dry Skin and What You Can Do About It
Dry skin, also known as Xerosis, is usually harmless and temporary, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable. In some cases, if left untreated it may lead to eczema exacerbation or skin infection. Dr. Gallacher can provide some highly effective treatment options and medical grade skin care products.
Symptoms Of Dry Skin
Dry skin may cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- Skin that feels and looks rough or tight
- Mild to severe flaking, peeling, or scaling
- Fine cracks or lines that may become deep
- Gray, ashy skin in people with darker skin tones
- Chapped or cracked lips
What Causes Dry Skin?
Anyone can develop dry skin. As we age, our skin loses some of its natural moisture. Over 50% of older adults have some degree of dry skin. Environmental factors include:
- Climate: a very dry climate or cold winter weather, as well as indoor heating
- Excessively hot or long baths or showers, or frequent swimming in chlorinated pools
- Harsh soaps, detergents and shampoos
- Having a job that requires frequent hand immersion in water (nursing, hairstyling, etc…)
Prevention and Treatment
If you suffer from dry skin, prevention and treatment go hand-in-hand. Limit shower/bath time to 10 minutes and use warm rather than hot water. Avoid harsh soaps and irritating fabrics. Wear rubber gloves if you have to immerse your hands in water. Cover your skin when you go outdoors in cold weather. Install a humidifier indoors; set it between 45 and 55% and at a temperature between 68° and 75° F.
Finally, and most important of all: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The Dermatology and Laser Centre provides medical grade skin care products. Dr. Gallacher can recommend products that are best suited to your skin and concerns. Apply a good quality oil, ointment, or cream moisturizer on your skin immediately after bathing, and several more times during the day. Use cosmetics that contain moisturizers and apply a good lip balm to chapped lips.
If your skin is very dry, try a moisturizer that contains urea, glycerin, or lactic acid. These ingredients help the skin hold water.
When To Seek Treatment For Dry Skin
Dry skin is a passing problem for most people. However, you should discuss your concerns with Dr. Gallacher if your skin:
- Doesn’t improve despite home treatment
- Is very red, has open sores or signs of infection
- Has large areas of peeling or scaling skin
- Is so itchy you cannot sleep
You may need a hydrocortisone cream or an immune modulator medication to relieve swelling, redness, and itching. Dr. Gallacher may also conduct tests to rule out any underlying health problem that could be the source of your dry skin.