Dry skin can affect any part of your body, however it is often driest on your lower legs, arms, sides of your abdomen and thighs.
If you have dry skin, you’re likely to experience one or more of the following:
- A feeling of skin tightness.
- Rough, scaly or flaking skin.
- Fine lines or cracks.
- Deep cracks that may bleed if severe.
- Dry skin can be a temporary problem or it can be a long-term and recurring concern.
Dry skin results from a lack of water in the epidermis. When your skin becomes dehydrated, it loses its flexibility and becomes cracked and scaly.
Dry, scaly or itchy skin may be due to:
- Cold weather: dry skin occurs more often in winter when the cold weather outside and warm air from heating inside creates low humidity.
- Frequent bathing: too many hot baths or showers wash off the surface layer of natural oil on your skin.
- Soaps and detergents: harsh soaps and shampoos and detergents can strip the natural oils from your skin.
- Ageing: older skin holds less water.
- Skin conditions: such as dermatitis and psoriasis.
What to do
The aim of treating dry skin is to hold and preserve the moisture within the epidermis. You can do a lot on your own to improve dry skin, including:
- Minimising the amount of time you spend in the bath or shower.
- Bathing in lukewarm water.
- Using soap substitutes and emulsifying bath oil and body washes.
- After washing, gently pat skin dry with a soft towel rather than rubbing it completely dry.
- Applying moisturiser immediately after washing while skin is still damp to make the skin softer and smoother and less likely to crack.
You should seek medical advice if:
- Home care methods do not work.
- Skin is broken and you are worried about infection.
- Skin is very red and inflamed.
- White patches or silvery scales are visible.
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