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What is Dry Skin and What Causes it?

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 3 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Common Skin Conditions Dry Skin Patches

One of the most common skin conditions that may be affecting you is dry skin. You can have dry skin all over your body or you may just have patches of dry skin in certain spots. Although mild dry skin is not medically harmful it can become quite uncomfortable and annoying to deal with. In extreme cases, some areas of the skin can become scaly or cracked, a condition that definitely needs to be dealt with. No matter how mild or severe your dry skin is there are numerous ways to treat and prevent it. However, first you need to understand exactly what dry skin is, and the causes that can contribute to its existence.

Recognising Dry Skin

Dry skin has many forms. The mildest cases can be recognised by a dry look to your skin, some mild flaking of the skin, and a slight tightness in the feel of your skin. More severe cases of dry skin can be accompanied by severe itching, red or white patches of skin (splotchiness), cracking, bleeding, severe tightness, and pain.

Although skin has its own natural elasticity, allowing it to stretch and move as you do, the drier your skin is, the less stretchiness it will have. This increased tightness can lead to other skin problems such as increased stretch marks, and more wrinkles.

The Causes

  • Conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea: If you suspect that one of these is the cause of your dry skin, you should consult your doctor for advice.

  • The environment: One of the most common causes for dry skin is your surroundings. Often, in the winter months, dry skin can plague you because of the lack of humidity (moisture) in the air. It is also important to remember that if you live in drier areas, such as a desert, it doesn’t even have to be cold outside for the air to have ill effects on your skin’s moisture level.

  • Sun damage: Being in the sun for prolonged periods, even with sun block, can lead to excessive dryness of the skin.

  • Oil glands: You have likely heard of people complaining about oily skin. This is when oil glands are overactive and produce too much oil. The opposite, when the oil glands don’t supply enough lubrication, can cause skin to become dry.

  • Diet: An unhealthy diet can rob your skin of moisture and also bring about other, more serious, health concerns.

A Word About Diet

If you do not have the proper diet, your skin will reflect that. By eating the proper foods, and drinking enough water, you will be able to prevent dry skin from occurring anywhere on your body. If you already have dry skin, you can help decrease the dryness by following these tips:

  • Drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day to keep your skin hydrated.

  • Eat a balanced diet that limits the amount of processed foods you eat. Raw foods (excluding meats) are always best for your entire body, including your skin, since they contain more naturally occurring water. Your diet should be balanced to include vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts.

  • Try to ingest a lot of vitamins A and C. These vitamins help your skin hold onto available moisture in your system. Common foods including these vitamins are oranges, cantaloupes, and carrots.

  • Avoid junk food, including fried foods, chocolate, candy, since these substances can rob moisture levels from your skin.

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol since these substances lead to dehydration.

By adhering to a skin-friendly diet you can help keep your skin hydrated, healthy, and glowing and help reduce the effects of other dry skin causes.

What it all Means

While there are many causes of dry skin, some of which are beyond your control, understanding the facts of dry skin can go along way towards helping you treat and prevent it. Make some simple changes to your diet, invest in a good moisturiser, and watch for the signs of dry skin so you can treat it before it becomes too serious.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
My Thumbs , first fingers and second fingers have for a long time become dry and scaly such that they crack and bleed. The only factor that seems relevant is that I don't drink 2 pints of water every day although how this affects oily skin doesn't seem to be a factor as oil and water don't mix.Does anybody have any ideas ?
Peter - 3-Apr-13 @ 6:05 PM
I bin reading many tipes of healings,but what din`t come up,,, wy is that a person has dry skin???My daughter has very dry skin all over and she only 20 and I noticed that her under legs has brown spots.I know for fact that the oil glands are not producing oil,to lubricate her skin.So the question remains,,,,,,WHAT CAUSES THE GLANDS NOT be WORKING?????.Any dermatologist after they had so much of research,they should by now have the answer.Is that diet,probably the sun,or bad diet.This is a big concern for the public.I have lines in my face and my oil glands are completly dry,wy is that??????
bf - 3-Dec-12 @ 7:48 AM
I really enjoyed reading this article and my skin does not seem to produce enough oil and is dry all of the time. I have been to the doctor and he says it is not eczema. I have tried lots of various creams which were ok but none have helped me like the mama nature products i now use. I use their anti-wrinkle creams on my face and their sheer bliss moisturiser on my body. The natural oils seem to work better for me and my skin has became silky and feels amazing. I really feel strongly about how good these products are. My only gripes are that I wish the body lotion came in a pump dispenser and it was slightly cheaper.
Gina - 7-Mar-12 @ 5:45 PM
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