Dry skin is one of the most common skin problems that affect people of all ages. Though dry skin can be especially problematic during the dry winter months, dry skin can occur throughout the year. Sebum keeps your skin elastic and soft, so when there is a drop in normal levels, dry patches or xerosis can result. These dry patches will be flaky, sensitive, and itchy. They may also appear quite red in color. Skin is our body's first line of defense against infection, so we want to keep it healthy and prevent sunburn. Facial dry skin can also be embarrassing for the person. Knowing the underlying causes of dry skin and the appropriate treatment methods are therefore essential.
What causes dry patches on the face?
The causes of dry skin patches can either be environmental or medical. Environmental causes are external stimuli that have aggravated the skin on your face. Medical causes of dry skin patches involve an underlying medical condition.
Environmental: During the winter months you experience dry, cold wind, which are detrimental for you skin and may result in dry patches. Because your face is not normally covered while you are outside in the winter, it is very easily and often affected by the cold weather. During winter, there is very little moisture in the air, which means that your skin is getting little moisture from its environment. Summer can also be a hazardous time for your skin, as extended sun exposure causes skin damage. The sun reduces your skins natural oils. However, you are still exposed to the sun's dangerous effects in the winter, particularly when there is snow on the ground to reflect UV light.
Bathing in too hot or cold water or simply bathing too frequently can also cause dry skin. Swimming in chlorinated water can have the same effect. Cosmetics are one of the most common causes of dry skin, especially on the face. Harsh make-up, toiletries, and detergents can strip the face of its natural oils, resulting in dry, red, and irritated skin.
Medical: Atopic dermatitis or Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes rashes. These rashes are scaly, red, dry, and itchy. They can manifest all over the body, and will be aggravated by cold air, harsh chemicals, stress, water, and detergents. Psoriasis is another skin condition that causes red, flaky patches or scales that affect the skin. The symptoms of psoriasis normally appear-and-disappear sporadically, and they include red patches anywhere on the body, but are most often experienced on the elbows, knees, and torso. These patches will be red-pink in color, itchy, dry, flaky, and raised. Additional symptoms of psoriasis include joint pain, cosmetic changes to the nails or change in color and density, and dandruff.
Home remedies for dry skin
Dry skin can be effectively resolved with home remedies. The following methods can decrease itching, redness, and dryness.
Aloe Vera: The gel inside this plant is very effective at adding moisture to your dry skin. Just cut off a leaf from an Aloe Vera plant, taking the wounded side, squeeze out all of the soft gel into your hand and then apply it to the dry patches on your face. Aloe Vera products are available at a drug store.
Horsetail: It can reduce redness, swelling, dryness, and itching. The herb can be brought from natural health stores in its dry form. Mix 1 tsp. of horsetail with 1 cup of water into a pot. Put this pit onto the stove and heat it for 10 minutes. Allow the concoction to cool slightly, and then with a face cloth, rub the mixture onto the dry skin. This process should be repeated twice a day until the dry skin patches have disappeared.
There are also some things that you can do to prevent dry skin from occurring in the first place:
Moisturize often: Moisturizing regularly can be an effective method for preventing dry skin, as well as for treating it. Every morning and evening it is recommended that you wash your face with cool water and then gently pat dry your face dry with a clean towel. Next apply a moisturizer, preferably an non-fragranced and natural product, to your face. Oils, such as vitamin E oil, almond or olive oil, can also be effective at hydrating your skin.
Prevent sun damage: Always use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher. Your skin is exposed to the sun's UV rays all year that will dry out and damage your skin. You should also use lip balm with SPF 15 year round to lock in moisture and prevent sun damage.
Cosmetics and detergents: When picking your soaps, skin products, and makeup be sure to opt for products that do not contain harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals will strip the skin of its natural oils, resulting in dry skin. If you have extremely sensitive skin, it is important that your purchase products that are specially made for sensitive skin.
When to see a doctor
Though dry skin patches normally disappear on their own or with home remedies, there are certain skin conditions that will require medical treatment. Contact your doctor as soon as you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chronic dry skin. This means that it lasts for a prolonged period of time and home remedies are ineffective.
- Blisters that bleed and are inflamed.
- Thickened skin. The skin will have a leathery consistency.
- The patches are flaky.
- Fingernails change in color and texture. They become yellow-brown and thicken.
- Severe dandruff
- Joint pain
- Hair loss
If you experience any of the above symptoms then you may have eczema, seborrhea dermatitis, or Psoriasis. All of these skin conditions will require medical treatment. It is therefore important that you contact your doctor immediately.