Dry skin is a common condition that is medically known as xerosis. It can occur on its own without any underlying medical condition, or it may be tied to a particular health problem. Dry skin can range from a mild annoyance that can be treated with over-the-counter lotions to a more serious health problem that needs medical care.
Causes of Dry Skin
Dry skin is just a normal part of life for many people. For example, the skin tends to get drier as a natural part of the aging process. People who live in very dry climates, like the mountains and the desert, tend to have drier skin. Certain professions are more likely to cause people to have dry skin, like hair stylists or nurses. And people who swim regularly tend to get dry skin from the chlorine exposure.
Dry skin can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Malnutrition, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s syndrome and diabetes are just a few of the diseases that cause dry skin.
For typical dry skin, relief can be found with regular use of moisturizing lotions and some simple at-home strategies. This might include minimizing exposure to irritants like harsh soaps and chemicals, taking shorter baths and showers, changing razors more frequently and using a humidifier to moisten the air in the home. It’s also helpful to stay hydrated, and avoid scratching dry skin. When dry skin is severe, medicated lotions and creams can be prescribed by a doctor. Several medications can also contribute to dry skin, so changing medications if this becomes an issue might be a possibility.
SOURCES: American Skin Association; American Academy of Dermatology