Date: 17th. Nov. 2017
Dry skin or xerosis is a very common condition that can happen to anyone regardless of their age. It occurs when your skin loses or is unable to hold its moisture content. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the parts where the dry skin appears most often are hands, lower legs, sides of abdomen and thighs.
Sometimes, dry skin is accompanied by itching, flaking, scaling, and even bleeding. In addition, it makes your fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. In most cases, it is caused because of environmental factors that lead to loss of skin’s moisture. However, dry skin can also be a warning sign of more serious skin conditions — in which case, a dermatologist needs to be consulted.
Here are 5 of the most common dry skin conditions:
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. It is more widespread in children than in adults. The exact cause of this condition is not known but those prone to allergies and suffering from asthma are at a higher risk of suffering from atopic dermatitis. Some of the known triggers for this condition are soaps, stress, weather, and detergents.
- Itchy, red, dry, and cracked skin
- Patches of dry skin
- Inflamed skin
- More common on hands, back of the knees, inside of elbows, face, and scalp
- Periods of flare-ups and cooldowns
It is important to visit your dermatologist as soon as the symptoms appear. He or she will then diagnose your condition and recommend the appropriate course of treatment. Since atopic dermatitis has no cure, this condition can only be managed by relieving the symptoms.
2. Contact Dermatitis
More than 10 million cases of contact dermatitis or eczema are recorded every year in India. There are two types of contact dermatitis – irritant and allergic. Allergic dermatitis is more common of the two and is caused due to direct exposure to substances that cause a reaction. Irritant dermatitis, on the other hand, is caused when the outer protective layer of your skin is damaged, resulting in an outbreak.
- Dryness of skin
- Red rashes
- Cracked and scaly skin
- Burning sensation on the infected part
Remember, if you repeatedly scratch the rash, it can become infected. Irritant eczema is more common among women than men and takes a long time to heal. Make sure that you visit your doctor if your rash doesn’t recover after 3 weeks.
3. Pruritus in the Elderly
Pruritus in the elderly is also called senile pruritus and Willan’s itch. It is the most common skin condition affecting adults over the age of 70. The cause of this condition is unknown but fortunately, it doesn’t cause any significant complications.
- Scaly skin
- Can appear on any part of the body
Pruritus in the elderly is a non-communicable condition and its risk factors are unknown. Your dermatologist may conduct a thorough physical examination or perform a dermoscopy to reach a diagnosis. Upon examination, he or she may recommend a topical steroid cream or moisturizers as part of the treatment.
Psoriasis is a condition in which the life cycle of skin cells increases, resulting in the formation of scales and red patches. This is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. However, the symptoms are manageable. Some of the known triggers of psoriasis are infections, stress, smoking, and cold weather. Depending on the case, the patches on the skin may be itchy and painful.
- Dry and cracked skin
- Soreness, itching, and burning
- In some cases, rashes involve the nails and joints
- In children, small scaling spots may also appear
- Red patches covered with thick scales
The treatment options for psoriasis aim to reduce the inflammation and clear the skin of scales. There are three types of treatment options available – topical agents, light therapy, and medications. Your dermatologist may prescribe one or more of these treatments depending on your case.
Ichthyosis is an inherited skin disorder in which the skin doesn’t shed its dead cells, causing the formation of a thick scaly surface. Ichthyosis is also called fish scale or fish skin disease due to the scaly appearance. This condition is usually present at birth or develops in the early years of childhood. In rare cases, it may first develop in adulthood as well.
- Itchy skin
- Polygon-shaped scales on skin
- Flaky scalp
- Severely thick and dry skin
No cure has been found for ichthyosis vulgaris, hence the treatment options focus on controlling the condition.
Common Ways People Deal with Dry Skin Conditions
While the conditions mentioned above cannot be treated, their symptoms can be managed. There are three widely used ways to do so:
Self-care refers to taking measures yourself either to prevent or to not aggravate the condition. For example, conditions like eczema make the skin very itchy. However, scratching can damage your skin and spread it further. Excessive scratching can also cause bleeding or infections.
Another thing to take care of is avoiding triggers. Once you speak to your dermatologist, he or she can help you determine what the triggers are for your dry skin condition. If you know the triggers, you can then avoid them and prevent another outbreak. Some of the common triggers are:
– Certain fabrics
– Certain soaps and detergents
– Dust mites
Emollients are chemical agents that help to keep your skin supple and moist. They reduce the water loss by covering stratum corneum (surface layer of the epidermis) with a protective film. Emollients are a part of daily skin care routine for those who suffer from dry skin condition like atopic eczema and psoriasis.
There are many emollients available in the market but your dermatologist may prescribe an emollient that is most suitable for your condition. ICPA’s Moyzen Liquid and Moyzen Cream are some of the emollients prescribed for dry skin conditions covered in this post. These are fragrance-free to avoid allergy induced flare-ups.
If soaps or other body cleansing products irritate your skin, then you can try a soap recommended for dry skin conditions. Moyzen Plus Bathing Bar contains olive oil, glycerine, aloe vera, and vitamin E that keeps your skin soft and tender.
Many of the dry skin conditions accompany with inflammation and itchy skin. To keep these symptoms in check, your doctor may prescribe you a topical corticosteroid. These are applied directly to the skin and come in varying strengths.
The main function of topical corticosteroids is to prevent dry skin conditions from flaring up and reducing the itching. It is vital to visit your dermatologist if you have to apply the corticosteroid frequently.
We hope that this article will help you understand your dry skin condition and deal with it better. Remember, it is important to seek professional help if the symptoms start affecting other aspects of your life.
- Yalcin B, Tamer E, Gur Toy G, et al. The prevalence of skin diseases in the elderly: Analysis of 4099 geriatric patients. Int J Dermatol. 2006;45:672–676.