For most people, extremely dry skin (also known as Xerosis) is temporary. It comes up during winter and goes away when the weather warms up. However, there are many cases of people with dry skin all throughout the year. Although it’s an issue that comes with age, a few other factors influence the way our skin looks and feels. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But first, let’s go through some of the most common symptoms and some commonly asked questions about extremely dry skin.
Symptoms of Extremely Dry Skin
The first and most noticeable symptom of dry skin is the feeling of tightness all throughout the surface of the body, or in certain areas. This will especially happen after having contact with water (swimming, bathing, or showering).
Itchy skin is another indicator you need to moisturize more, especially if the area looks and feels rough. If you scratch it, extremely dry skin will, in time, lead to pruritus, which will be more difficult to treat.
If you do not efficiently moisturize dry skin, it will soon crack, flake, or scale. Since skin is our body’s barrier against pathogens and other microscopic organisms, this will expose our body to a vast number of risks, and can cause infections. If you do not treat them, cracks can lead to bleeding, which will make treatment more troublesome.
The texture of extremely dry skin will give the impression of grey and ashy skin, especially for people with a darker complexion. This will lead to an unpleasant overall look.
Common Questions About Extremely Dry Skin
Shouldn’t soaking in the bathtub provide more moisture for my skin?
No; water and particularly hot water, washes away your skin’s natural oils and leads to even drier skin. Even if you apply moisturizer right after getting out of the tub, to lock that moisture in, that still won’t be as good as your skin’s natural oils. So take great care of them.
Why won’t scrubbing dry skin make it go away?
Excessive scrubbing and exfoliating dry skin will irritate and dry it out even more, since it does not occur naturally. The layers of skin underneath what you are exfoliating will be exposed to several risks. Exfoliate once every 2 to 3 weeks at most, and avoid products with beads or alcohol. We recommend home-made scrubs like honey with coffee grounds.
Can dry skin mean something else is wrong?
It can; visit your doctor if you believe that’s the case. Psoriasis and some types of dermatitis cause patches of dry skin. Other issues that could lead to drier skin are diabetes, thyroid gland problems, and many others.
Causes of Extremely Dry Skin
Cold weather is the number one cause of dry skin, (since air humidity decreases). It is closely followed by aging. Even though aging causes a whole set of changes to the human body, the most common and noticeable indication is dry skin.
Contrary to popular belief, long and hot showers or baths dry out the skin. This is because hot water dissolves our skin’s natural oils and moisturizers. Also, avoid scrubbing, rubbing, harsh soaps, creams, or gels, since they will wash out the skin oils, drying it out even more. Drying off completely after a shower is another common mistake. This takes away moisture that could have been absorbed by the skin. To lock it in, the use of moisturizer on damp skin is advised.
Certain other health issues related to, but not limited to skin disorders, such as: psoriasis, some kinds of dermatitis, diabetes, thyroid gland problems, and many others. Some will go away after a doctor appointment, while others will need a long or even permanent treatment. If you find out that the cause of your dry skin is internal, think of it as your body pulling an alarm signal to let you know somewhere, something is wrong.
Spending time in water, or even worse, chlorinated water, will dry out the skin even further. Certain irritants found in cleaning products, perfumes, detergent, or fabric softener can and, usually will have the same effect.
How to Treat Extremely Dry Skin
Dealing with dry skin can be frustrating and can often seem like a lost battle. No matter how much moisturizer you use, there will still be dry skin patches all over your body. It’s a great discomfort and drawback.
Before we jump in to some of the best ways to treat dry skin, let’s look at a few small changes you can make in your life to avoid drying out your skin:
- Use an air humidifier during the cold months, especially in your sleeping area
- Use a soap that’s designated for dry or extremely dry skin
- Shower with warm water and no longer than 10-15 minutes
- Use your hands or a soft washcloth to clean yourself
- Use fragrance-free and dye-free products formulated for dry or sensitive skin
Most Effective Way to Treat Extremely Dry Skin
Using a heavy and very greasy moisturizer on damp skin, with other procedures we mentioned, should be enough to soften even the driest skin. Such a moisturizer should contain dimethicone, ceramides, petroleum jelly, urea, or lactic acid, to name a few. However, be careful about the quality of your choice. Sure, a $5 moisturizer will help and will definitely not dry out your skin, but the ability to moisturize is usually proportional to the price you’re paying.
Try to hunt down famous skin care brands like Clinique, Estée Lauder, Avène, or Neutrogena for best results, or ask your pharmacist for the best skin cream or balm for extremely dry skin.
How to Treat Extremely Dry Skin Naturally
Even though specially-formulated moisturizers would work best, there are cheap and natural dry skin remedies proven to be very effective:
Milk and oatmeal baths
The lactic acid will increase your skin’s ability to retain moisture and gently get rid of dead skin cells. Oatmeal is a great moisturizer and has multiple other benefits like anti-oxidative or anti-inflammatory properties. Pick the greasiest milk and the plainest oats you can find, avoiding high sugar content. Blend the oats separately until they are a fine powder and then add them to the milk.
You can either dilute the mix into a tub of water and soak for as long as you need, or use a soft cloth to apply repeatedly on your skin. Dry out by gently patting down and leaving moisture to be absorbed by the skin.
Just like milk, olive oil has been used in cosmetics ever since its discovery. It contains fatty acids and antioxidants, both great for our skin, and can be used both on its own and with other home remedies. It is recommended to use it directly on the skin either about an hour before showering or after, since skin will take in most of it and the rest can be gently wiped off.
Honey is one of the greatest treatments for skin that’s dry, since it’s a natural moisturizer that also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. If your dry skin has started to crack or scale, honey is a must, since it will significantly lower the risk of infection. It also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals that will only benefit your skin. You can rub it on the skin 15 minutes before showering, or mix it up with any other natural treatments we talked about.
Other things you can mix up into your natural treatment for dry skin: yoghurt, aloe vera, avocado puree, coconut, almond, or just about any other cold pressed oil you can find on the market. There really aren’t restrictions for blending these natural moisturizers for extremely dry skin. Pick up whichever ones you have within reach, mix them up, and make good use of use them.
Although the causes of dry skin are mostly external, change always comes from the inside. Therefore, improving your diet will also benefit your skin, given time. The first tip for healthy skin and body is to never skip breakfast, eat regular meals, and drink plenty of water.
As for the foods that are especially good for your skin, generally look for a high Omega-3 fatty acids content. These can be found in most oceanic or cold water fatty fish, like herring and salmon, but also in walnuts, avocados, and flaxseeds.
Raw fruits and vegetables are also a must, since they provide vitamins. Try eating as many as possible. Yellow and orange fruits are usually great for our skin: like carrots or apricots. Green and leafy vegetables are also a must, but any other vegetable will have a positive effect on your body and your skin.
Do’s & Don’ts when Having Extremely Dry Skin
DO take short showers with warm water (5-10min).
DON’T use hot water, since it removes the skin’s natural oil barrier, which keeps the little moisture inside.
DO use soap-less, fragrance-free cleanser with ceramides or synthetic ceramides.
DON’T use peelers, toners, astringents, or products with alcohol.
DO scrub, but do it gently since it can irritate the skin, causing it to thicken.
DO shave if you have to, but do it carefully: use a sharp razor, always use a special cream or gel, do it after showering, and always in the direction the hair is growing; shaving with a dull blade scrapes away more of our natural oils, so use a sharp one.
DON’T stay in the sun for too long and always use a broad-spectrum cream with a Sun Protection Factor of over 50 in the summertime and over 30 the rest of the year; always use SPF lip balm.
DO protect your skin from the sun with long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat.
DO use multiple layers instead of few thick ones during cold seasons, to avoid perspiring excessively.
DON’T wipe or pat your skin for too long after a shower, and always apply moisturizer when skin is still damp.
DO use a rich moisturizer with very nutritious ingredients like shea butter, ceramides, glycerin, or stearic acid.
DO use an air humidifier during the winter months, since dry air usually means dry skin.
DON’T use the same moisturizer for body and face; always use a high SPF moisturizer specifically made for face skin, since it will not clog the pores
Even though extremely dry skin can be harsh to deal with, it is getting easier and easier to treat. Most remedies are not costly, but they still require a decent amount of your time. We are yet to find a good remedy that is also fast, since skin takes its time when absorbing the nutrients it needs.
What’s your favorite method to treat extremely dry skin?