Although dry skin is often temporary when it occurs, it’s generally a lifelong condition that’s mostly triggered by environmental factors. Taking hot baths and showers can dry out your skin, too, as can washing your hands frequently or doing the dishes in hot water with harsh detergent.
The most common factor linked to dry skin is the weather. Skin tends to be drier in cold winter months when humidity levels are at their lowest. Combine that with indoor heat -- central forced-air heating, radiator heat, or wood stoves -- and your skin can become even drier. If you live in the desert, low humidity can be an ongoing factor in dry skin, regardless of the season.
Skin becomes dry when it loses too much water, oil, or both. Although people of all ages and skin types get dry skin, certain factors can make you more prone to it, including:
Age: More than half of older adults have dry skin. Because skin becomes thinner and drier with age, most people over age 40 benefit from daily moisturizer use.
Climate: Living in a dry desert climate or a climate with dry, cold winters can make you susceptible to dry skin.
Career: If you’re a nurse, doctor, hair stylist, or some other professional who emerges your hands in water throughout the day, you’re more likely to develop dry skin on your hands.
Swimming: If you’re a swimmer, you’re more likely to get dry skin, particularly if you swim in a heavily-chlorinated pool.
Skin disease: If you had eczema as a child, you’re more likely to have dry skin as an adult. Psoriasis is another cause of dry skin.
Dry skin is mostly an uncomfortable condition that’s usually harmless, especially when it’s cared for properly. Ignoring your dry skin can make it worse, however, and may lead to unwanted complications. Skin that’s allowed to get so dry that it cracks and bleeds is more prone to infection. If you’re prone to eczema, allowing your skin to become excessively dry can trigger the condition, causing redness, itching, inflammation, and cracking.
To keep your skin moist and prevent eczema, follow these guidelines:
Pat your skin dry with a towel after you shower or bathe. Then, apply moisturizer from your neck to your feet to help seal in moisture. Use moisturizer on your hands or other areas that are prone to drying throughout the day.
At Easton Dermatology Associates, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.