- Dry facial skin can be a result of genetics, allergies, climate or skin care products.
- Symptoms of dry skin typically include itching, redness, flaking and roughness.
- Dry skin can be improved with the use of a moisturizer and humidifier.
- Avoid hot water, chlorine and other harsh chemicals to help reduce symptoms.
- Severe symptoms caused by dry skin should be seen by a doctor for professional treatment.
Dry skin is a common condition, with most people likely to experience it at some point in their lives. In medical terms, dry skin is often referred to as “xerosis.”
Dry skin can occur anywhere on the body, although the face is often an area of concern as it can leave individuals feeling particularly self-conscious.
The outermost layer of skin acts as a protective barrier against the environment. When this barrier becomes damaged, water loss can occur. This results in skin looking dehydrated and feeling dry.
The causes of dry skin vary among individuals. Genetics can play a role, with a higher risk of dry skin developing in those whose family members are affected.
Inappropriate choice of cleansers and overuse of exfoliators and cleansers can contribute to the development of dry skin by damaging the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Products containing fragrances, alcohol and parabens have been demonstrated to cause dryness on the face. Additionally, using facial products that contain irritating ingredients can lead to dryness – especially for those with sensitive skin.
Cold weather can also result in dry skin due to low temperatures reducing the skin’s natural protective barrier, leaving it susceptible to damage and dryness. So too will a prolonged shower in hot water.
Typical symptoms of dry skin include:
- Redness and itching of the affected area.
- Rough texture and appearance.
- Sensation of skin tightness.
- Flaking and peeling of the skin, which can range from mild to severe.
How To Keep Dry Skin Under Control
Dry skin can be managed by following an effective regimen: washing with gentle cleansers, avoiding excessively hot water, covering skin during harsh weather conditions and investing in a humidifier.
Wash your face gently
Dry skin can be exacerbated by cleansers and exfoliants that are not formulated for your skin type so it is important to choose products formulated for dry skin. Mild cleansers with simple ingredients are often best-suited to those with dry skin, as are those that are soap-free.
Use exfoliating products with care and limit to once or twice per week for skin that is prone to dryness.
Ensure water is lukewarm water when cleansing the face, as hot water can lead to further dryness. Avoid using coarse face cloths which could have an abrasive effect on the skin.
Avoid hot showers
Showering in hot water can strip dry skin of much-needed oil and leave skin vulnerable to more serious conditions such as eczema. Turning the shower down to a cooler temperature or reducing your time spent showering can help to keep dry skin under control.
Cover up in cold weather
Cold temperatures during the winter can leave the skin feeling dry and irritated. Limit exposure and protect skin from the elements by dressing properly.
Use a humidifier
Central heating and air conditioning can cause the humidity level to drop dramatically. Our skin relies on moisture from the environment and can become quite dry and irritated without it.
Use a humidifier to improve humidity levels within the home and help your skin stay hydrated.
Apply a moisturizer
A moisturizer should be an essential part of your daily skin care routine, especially if you suffer from dry skin. In addition to hydrating the skin, moisturizers also act as protective barriers against the elements.
Moisturizers are applied after cleansing in the morning and just before going to bed in the evening – although they may need additional applications throughout the day for drier skin to feel comfortable.
Best Moisturizers to Treat Dry Skin on Your Face
Moisturizers specifically formulated to treat dry skin have ingredients to provide the additional moisture and protection that this skin type requires. Ingredients often include urea, ceramide, lanolin and shea butter.
Ceramides are naturally occurring fats (lipids) within the body which help to prevent moisture loss and protect the skin. They can also be found in moisturizers and skin medications as an effective treatment for dry skin.
Our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid (HA), to enable skin to retain moisture.
HA is an ingredient often added in serums and moisturizers due to its ability to hydrate and soften the skin. When applied topically, HA retains moisture and can reduce the appearance of rough skin, while also offering anti-aging benefits by giving the appearance of plumper skin.
Urea is a potent moisturizing ingredient used to safely and effectively treat a wide range of skin conditions. Urea hydrates the skin, but also helps to regenerate the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Additionally, it has been shown to have antimicrobial properties which can aid in preventing infection within broken skin.
Glycerol is an effective ingredient that enhances the skin’s ability to hold water, to facilitate healing and provide essential moisture.
Vitamin C offers a variety of benefits for the skin. When applied topically, this powerful antioxidant encourages skin repair and collagen production. Additionally, vitamin C offers protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
A 2015 study found that women who received a vitamin C skin treatment reported softening, brightening and hydrating benefits after 4 weeks of daily use.
Aloe vera is a natural remedy for dry skin and can often be found within moisturizers and cleansers. Aloe gel has been demonstrated to have antioxidant effects and the ability to hydrate the skin.
At-Home Remedies for Dry Skin
Colloidal oatmeal has also been shown to improve skin dryness and roughness, while also reducing the itching sensation caused by dry skin. It can be applied as a lotion or added into a lukewarm bath, acting as a soothing anti-inflammatory.
Apply coconut oil directly onto the skin to for added protection against dry skin.
Dry Skin During Pregnancy
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause various skin complaints, including dryness and itchiness. Emollients are often prescribed to safely provide relief from these symptoms.
However, potent topical steroids and oral steroids prescribed for moderate to severe dry skin conditions should be avoided as they have been associated with an increased risk of low birthweight.
Pregnancy also causes changes to the immune system. Dry skin is often accompanied with unpleasant itching symptoms, however it is important to avoid scratching the affected areas as broken skin can lead to infection.
The symptoms of dry skin may lessen over the course of pregnancy, however if the skin does not heal after using topical treatments then it is essential to schedule an appointment with a professional for further advice.
A Word About Prevention
Applying moisturizer regularly and avoiding prolonged hot showers can prevent the skin from becoming dry and irritated. Hydration can be maintained by applying natural oils such as coconut and eucalyptus to the face.
Avoid cosmetics and skin care products that contain ingredients such as alcohol or perfumes, as these can irritate the skin and cause dryness.
Spending time swimming in chlorinated water may also lead to dryness, as exposure to chlorine can affect the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Therefore, limiting your time spent in swimming pools can prevent dry skin from occurring.
Dry skin during winter
Winter weather can be harsh on our skin. Keeping your skin covered up from the elements and daily moisturizing is key to preventing dry skin from occurring during the winter months.
Adding a serum to your moisturizing regimen may be necessary to protect your skin from winter weather. Vitamin E can often be found in serums that target dry skin, due to its ability to nourish the skin and provide additional hydration.
When to See a Doctor
Dryness of the skin can cause painful symptoms, such as itching and cracking. In more severe cases, bleeding can occur. If you experience open sores or large areas of peeling skin, it is time to see your doctor.
Prescription treatments for dry skin are typically ointments and creams, which are known as emollients. Emollients are moisturizing treatments which are applied topically to soothe, protect and moisturize the skin.
Emollient treatments should be applied regularly throughout the day to ensure the skin remains hydrated and protected. They often contain similar moisturizing ingredients to those found in over-the-counter products, including urea and glycerin.
Dry skin can be caused by a number of factors. Whether it is due to genetics or environmental triggers, symptoms can be alleviated through the regular use of moisturizers containing active ingredients such as urea and ceramides. Similarly, showering and cleansing the face with lukewarm water can prevent skin dryness and irritation.
Natural oils such as eucalyptus and coconut can offer relief from dry skin, especially during the winter months.
Moderate and severe cases of dry skin should always be seen by a doctor, who can prescribe emollients with high-strength ingredients to treat the symptoms.
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