Dry skin| What causes it and Treatment options

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A “normal” skin refers to an even and a well-balanced skin. Balanced in the sense that the skin is neither too oily nor too dry. Unlike a normal skin,  dry skin produces less sebum which acts as a protective shield against external influence and helps retain moisture. Dry skin is caused by a wide range of genetic and environmental conditions.

READ MORE: Sensitive Facial Skin| What Causes It and How Can I Protect It

Decrease in sebum production makes the skin more vulnerable to dryness. It leads to an impaired barrier function. Although, dry skin isn’t usually serious – it could lead to more severe skin conditions. Dry skin (also known as xerosis) has different degrees of severity that are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other.

Dry skin can affect any age group. It is caused by

Lack of Epidermal Lipids: Epidermal lipids consist of ceramides, cholesterol, cholesterol esters, monohexosyl-ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol sulfate and triglycerides. They all play major roles in the formation and proper functioning of the skins.

Lack of Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs): NMFs keep the upper layer of the skin smooth, hydrated and healthy. Depletion of the skin’s natural moisturizing factors lead to tightness, flaky skin which are symptoms of drying skin. Dry skin lacks NMFs, as a result loses the ability to retain moisture.

Skin Conditions: Certain diseases can significantly affect your skin. People with underlying skin conditions such as roscae, psoriasis, eczema are more likely to develop dry skin. They affect the skins moisture content and may be accompanied by severe skin dryness.

Weather: Drop in humidity and temperatures increases the chances of the skin becoming dry. Why?  during very cold or dry weather conditions water evaporates more rapidly making your skin feel dry and flaky.

Heat: Long exposure to heat from various sources such as hot bath/showers, occupation can reduce humidity and dry up the skin. In a long run, the lipid level of the skin depletes.

Swimming in Chlorinated Pools: Chlorine strips the skin of its natural oils, making it dry, itchy and tight.

Harsh soaps, detergents, skincare and cosmetic products: Dry skin is sensitive. Irritation occurs when in contact with harsh soaps, detergents or so cosmetic products. It is important to avoid skin care products that contain irritating ingredients such as perfumes and colorants.

Note: Always check that the product has been dermatologically tested on a sensitive skin.

Contributing Factors

Dry skin can be caused by both external and internal factors. A person can be affected by more than by more than one factor from both sides. Hence, increasing the severity of the dry skin. Understanding the factors that causes your dry skin will help to prevent and treat conditions effectively.

External Factors include:

Dehydration: Lack of moisture increases the severity in a skin already suffering from dryness.

Occupational hazards: Occupational exposure to extreme temperature, radiation, humility etc. increases the risk of dry skin.

UV radiation: Exposure too much radiation (UV) from sunlight is dangerous. It contributes greatly to sin dryness.

Internal Factors include:

Genetic influence: Genetics is large responsible for the moisture level in the skin. Predisposition of some people to having skin conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis etc. that increases the severity of dry skin are caused by genetics.

Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy can result to dry skin.

Diet: Nutrients such as Vitamin E and C are good for a healthy skin. Diets that lack these nutrients and unsaturated fatty acids can lead to dry skin.

Age: As people get older so does the skin. The skin’s metabolism slows down.


Dry skin treatment depends on what causes it and severity. The following can help heal dry skin

Cleanse regularly

Use a gentle cleanser – a gentle cleanser does not wash away the skin’s natural lipids. For a dry facial skin, the wrong choice can increase dryness which can contribute to the premature development of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s important you look for cleanser that contain Natural moisturizing factors such as urea. Check the cleanser pack before purchase.

Certain ingredients cleansers or facial soaps cam irritate and dry out the skin – includes:

Diethanolamine (DEA)
Monoethanolamine (MEA)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Triethanolamine (TEA)
Certain ingredients cleansers or facial soaps cam irritate and dry out the skin

Moisturize Daily

To improve the skin’s natural barrier function, it’s important to use either moisturizers, ointments or creams. Moisturizers help retain moisture by placing a waterproof like seal over the skin. For maximum effect, apply twice daily. Also, moisturizing overnight can provide extra benefits. Apply any moisturizer of your choice and wash it off with a gentle cleanse first thing in the morning.

Ideally, moisturizers for dry skin should contain active ingredients such as

  • Ceramides_ help to repair the liquid barrier and retain moisture
  • Gluco Glycerol – improves water distribution in the deeper epidermal layers of the skin.
  • Urea, lactate and Other NMFs: These natural moisturizing factors help bind moisture to the epidermal layers of the skin.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Helps reduces the appearance of dry line and wrinkles. Moisturizing becomes more important to prevent the development of further wrinkles, especially on the face.

Just as certain ingredients in moisturizers and other skin care products are beneficial in retain moisture, others tend to dry out the skin. They include:

Artificial fragrances or colors
Petroleutum or petroleum

Natural Moisturizers such as

  • Coconut oil
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Shea butter can help relieve dry skin on the face

Other Home remedies include

  • Avoid Contributing factors: Aside a good beauty skin routine, it is important to avoid factors that contribute to dry skin. This will help reduce the impact of dry skin and need for treatment.
  • Drink adequate amount of fluids to ensure skin hydration.
  • Reduce time spent bathing especially hot showers.
  • Wear clothes made of natural materials like cotton and silk that do not irritate the skin.
  • Choose detergents that do not contain perfumes or dye. They can remain on clothes even after washing and drying, increasing the severity of the skin.
  • Use gloves when washing dishes. This prevents your hands from drying out.
  • Avoid spending less time outdoors in harsh weather conditions, when indoors use a humidifier.

READ MORE: The Ultimate Beauty Skin Care Routine for a Glowing Skin

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