The largest organ of the body is the skin, it is the natural covering of our body. The skin serves several functions in our body ranging from protection, excretion, absorption, storage and synthesis. Dry, itchy, irritated, scaly skin can occur at certain times in our lives. Dry skin could be mild or at times it could be severe that you need to see your doctor. A condition of an abnormally dry skin is known as xerosis. Symptoms of dry skin include itching, scaly patches, redness and cracks in the skin.
The major causes of dry skin includes the following;
- Environmental triggers: The weather is mainly the cause of severe dry skin, especially in harmattan. The temperature drops, so also does the humidity, which leads to drier air that can exacerbate your dry skin. Due to the cold weather we tend to bath with hot water and taking longer time with it in the shower, this causes your skin to lose more moisture than usual
- Skin diseases: Some skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can make you more susceptible to dry skin. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common cause of dry, itchy skin in kids and adults.
- Systemic diseases: In addition to skin conditions, systemic diseases such as thyroid disease and diabetes, can also increase the risk of severe dry skin.
- Age: Dry skin does not select age, it affects everyone. It becomes more prominent as your age increases due to increased sensitivity and thinning. This may make your skin more prone to drying out quickly.
- Lack of moisture: When the body gets dehydrated, it can affect your skin. Hence there is need for drinking plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated from the inside and also moisturizing your skin regularly.
- Nutritional deficiencies: We are what we eat! A lack of certain vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B-6 and zinc, can cause dry, itchy skin, or skin that takes longer to heal.
Severely dry skin could be annoying, if it does not affecting your daily life and your skin is not showing signs of infection, you can try the following self-care remedies.
1. Make use of the right soap
Carefully select your soap that you use to bath. Lathering up with harsh soaps that contain irritants or strong fragrances can cause all sorts of problems for your skin. To keep the base layer of your skin moisturized, try using a moisturizing soap. If you want to maximize the results, consider using a skin cleanser instead of soap.
2. Reduce use of hot water on the skin
This is the one of the simplest modification you can make at home. When the weather is cold, there is high tendency for you to shower with hot water. Do you know that hot water can inflame your skin and cause imbalance to your skin moisture balance? Make use of lukewarm water.
Reduce your bathing time to less than 10 minutes.
You can also help your skin by making use of an humidifier indoors which will help circulation of moist hair making it easier for your skin to absorb moisture.
3. Dab your skin dry.
Treat your skin gently when bathing and drying. Do not wash your skin vigorously with a wash cloth or sponge when you are in the bath or shower.
When drying off with a towel, try to dab your skin dry so that there would be moisture left on your skin.
4. Try a cold compress
When you are down with the symptoms like the itching and inflammation which can cause discomfort, consider applying a cold compress to the affected area.
To prepare your own cold compress:
- Put several ice cubes in a plastic bag, or use a small bag of frozen veggies.
- Run a cloth under cold water, then wrap the damp cloth around the bag of ice cubes or frozen vegetables.
- Place the cold compress on your skin for about 10 minutes at a time.
- Gently pat your skin dry once you’re done.
5. Take time to moisturize your skin
Washing with the right soap is just part of the equation. To tackle severe dry skin head-on, you also need to seal in moisture right after drying off from a bath or shower.
When choosing a moisturizer, try to look for ones that are free of fragrances, perfumes, and dyes. Ointment and cream are better than lotion because they contain more oil.
For maximum relief, make use of an effective natural moisturizer such as petroleum jelly.
6. Watch what touches your skin
Carefully select your clothing and try to use laundry detergents that are formulated for sensitive skin. These detergents are typically gentler on your skin and less likely to cause irritation. When choosing clothes, stay away from scratchy fabrics like wool. Fabrics like cotton and silk allow your skin to breathe, which makes them a good choice for both clothing and bed linens.
You can make use of natural products such as coconut oil, almond oil and aloe vera. These contains anti inflammatory, anti microbial and moisturizing properties.
If your skin does become severely dry, home treatments can often help. But if your skin doesn’t improve, or the symptoms get worse, be sure to follow up with a healthcare professional.