Dry skin is a problem for lots of us, and yet it’s perfectly possible to dismiss this as a temporary issue, or nothing out of the ordinary even if it persists for months or even years.
So should you be concerned that flakiness is a symptom of some deeper dermatological concern, and what can you do to deal with dry skin effectively?
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What makes skin dry?
Tens of thousands of skin cells are shed and replaced daily, and our bodies regulate the amount of moisture retained by our skin during this process with the help of natural oils and the dead cells themselves.
If some kind of imbalance occurs, then your skin’s outermost layer could dry out, causing it to flake off in larger-than-normal clumps of dead cells.
This could be for a number of reasons, such as suffering sun damage or using products that contain harsh chemicals that aren’t compatible with your skin type. In the latter case, it’s best to use dry skin cream and cleanser products that are designed with your needs in mind.
When should you worry?
If you can pinpoint the cause of dry, flaky skin to some external factor, then it should be simple to treat. Staying out of the sun or changing your purchasing habits to steer clear of harmful chemicals should solve most flare-ups.
However, should these measures not make things better, you could be suffering from a more specific type of dermatological condition. Further investigation may be required, and seeking the help of a medical professional is a good step at this point.
What conditions can impact the skin?
One of the most common skin conditions which people encounter is eczema. It is more common in babies and young children but can persist into adulthood.
Eczema is defined by scaly patches of skin that are red and itchy. It can also lead to areas of skin that are incredibly dry, creating cracks and even bleeding if agitated.
The irritation of eczema can be lessened with prescription medications. You can also try to find the triggers for this condition, which can include products like soap and perfume, and might also be mental; stress can create eczema outbreaks in adults, for example.
Psoriasis is another dermatological ailment with a number of subtypes within it, and will generally impact areas of sensitive skin, such as that on the palms of your hand, your feet, knees, and lower back.
The cause of psoriasis is that of overzealous skin cell growth, which means there are new cells ready and waiting before the cells they are intended to replace have flaked away as usual. It is thought to be due to an incorrectly applied immune response, and if you suffer from it then triggers such as infections and stress are worth looking out for.
Likewise, if you are obese or a smoker, then the chances of suffering from psoriasis are higher. This condition is passed down in our genes, so your family’s medical history will hold evidence of what the future might hold for you as well.
What to do next?
There are many more dermatological issues that are linked with dry, irritated skin, but the next steps should be the same whatever the case.
If the problem persists indefinitely and it is causing you discomfort, speaking with a doctor is wise. Dermatological specialists will know what to do to help you cope, and also give you advice on how you can avoid any of the triggers that could be to blame for your dry skin experiences.