Dry skin is a very common problem in the winter. But, it can also be caused by other reasons that affect us year-round. What are they?
seasonal & environmental conditions
Dry winter air is an obvious cause. As the temperature drops, the air just naturally holds less moisture. Most people spend more time indoors and crank up the heat to say warm, which also dries out the air. It’s a double whammy! Read our blog all about winter skin care.
If you live in a dry, low-humidity climate, you might have a similar experience. Another issue of nature is aging. As part of the aging process, skins start to thin and our bodies also produce less sebum, the oil that helps maintain skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Another common culprit is skin care products, especially those that are drying or harsh. Soaps and astringent products are meant to cleanse and remove oil, so overusing these or using them when your skin is already dry can cause further dryness and irritation. Other “drying” products like acne treatments or retinol have this tendency as well.
Added fragrances are another cause, particularly if you have sensitive skin, and can irritate dry skin.
overwashing & wet work
Constant handwashing can lead to dry chapped hands, as you might have experienced! Long hot baths and showers have the same effect. They’re comforting in winter, but high heat for a prolonged period of time can strip skin of its natural oils.
Similarly, dry skin is common in jobs that require a lot of wet work – constantly putting your hands in water – like a hair stylist, nurse, or cook.
Dry skin can be a side effect of some medications, or medical conditions like eczema or diabetes. You may also be genetically predisposed to dry skin as your skin type, just as others might have naturally oily skin.
what can you do?
For an everyday type of dryness, using moisturizer, creams, or lotions – multiple times a day if needed – are a good start. If you have seriously dry skin, you can go for emollients, oils, or heavier or richer creams. After you wash your hands or bathe, apply while skin is still damp to seal in moisture.
Try using products that are gentle, fragrance-free or for sensitive skin to remove any potential irritants. For example, you could use a hydrating cleanser or cleansing cream instead of soap.
For more serious dry skin concerns, you may want to consult a dermatologist!
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; Mayo Clinic; EverydayHealth.com.