Dry skin can be painful, especially in winter months when the air is cold and dry. Although dry skin is more common in the winter, it can occur at any time and for a variety of reasons. Dry skin can appear scaly and can cause cracks in the skin, leading to bleeding, burning, and discomfort. At times, dry skin can be a side effect of an underlying disease, but often times it is caused by a variety of other reasons, such as the ones below.

Common Causes of Dry Skin

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Dry environment
  • Inadequate hydration (or dehydration)
  • Exposure to certain chemicals such as chlorine (swimming in a chlorinated pool)
  • Jobs that are hard on your hands (such as auto mechanics)

Symptoms of Dry Skin

  • Itching
  • Red plaques
  • Rough, dry skin
  • Cracked skin
  • Fissures on the skin

Coping with Dry Skin

If you suffer from dry skin, trying an at home remedy is a great first step in relieving symptoms. First and foremost, eliminate any harsh soaps from your home and replace them with mild, fragrance free soaps. Be sure to read product labels and avoid any surfactants, such as the following:

Surfactants to Avoid:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium tallowate or cocoate soaps
  • Salicylic acid or willow bark
  • AHA acids

Once all harsh soaps have been removed, the next recommendation is to keep showers short and avoid hot water. Hot water is known to dry out skin, so opt for a nice lukewarm temperature and limit your shower time to 5 minutes or less. Avoid scrubbing your skin with coarse sponges or cloths and instead use your hand or soft cloth when washing.  After showering, applying a thick moisturizer is key.

For dry skin sufferers, running a humidifier in your home may help to reduce symptoms. In winter months, keeping the heat set on 68 degrees and the humidity between 45% to 55% is ideal. Additionally, when venturing outdoors in the cold, dress appropriately and wear gloves and a scarf to protect your lips, face, and hands.

When to Seek Medical Treatment for Dry Skin

If you do not see improvement from at home remedies, medical treatment may be necessary. The dermatologists at Blue Ridge Dermatology are experts in treating sky conditions, such as dry skin. If you experience any of the symptoms below, schedule an appointment with Blue Ridge Dermatology today.

  • Dryness and itching interferes with sleep
  • Open sores appear from scratching
  • Large areas of scaling or peeling skin appear
  • The skin appears red
  • There is no improvement in dry skin after treatment

On occasion, dry skin can be a symptom of more serious medical conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes. For this reason, it is wise to consult a dermatologist if your dry skin symptoms persist or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as an increase in thirst or slow wound healing.

Learn More

If you have dry skin, don’t suffer any longer. The dermatologists at Blue Ridge Dermatology are available to help treat your dry skin, as well as determine the underlying cause. Learn more about our team of physicians or contact us today to schedule an appointment.