Causes of Dry Skin: A Complete Guide

Dry skin comes in a variety of forms. It can be temporary or chronic, a minor nuisance, or a major hurdle in your life.

It’s easy to think of dry skin as a trivial complaint. But those who suffer from it know that it can cause itching, redness, scaling, peeling, even deep cracks in the skin that can bleed and become infected. Not to mention, it can cause premature aging due to the fine lines and cracks in the skin created as a result.

Just as the types of dry skin vary, so do the causes of dry skin. Familiarizing yourself with these causes can help you pinpoint the source of your own dryness.

If your skin is in desperate need of moisture, read on to learn a few of the most common causes of dry skin on hands, face, and body.

Dehydration of the Skin

Did you know that your skin is actually an organ? It’s true! Skin is the largest organ in the human body. Now, why is this important? Because your body is made up of 60% water, and the percentage of water in your vital organs is even higher.

This means your skin needs a great deal of water to stay healthy. If you notice sudden dry skin or dry skin all over your body, chances are, you’re dehydrated.

Aim for drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day, more if you exercise or lose a lot of water through sweat. This will not only keep your skin healthy but boost your energy levels and mental clarity as well.

Dry Air Indoors or Outdoors

Have you ever noticed that your skin seems drier when the seasons change or when it’s particularly cold outside? This is because humidity levels outside drop during winter, and you typically turn your heat on inside. The hot forced air pushes humidity levels down further, causing even more itching and dryness.

If you suffer from seasonal dryness, start with a humidifier. Keep your home between 30 and 50% humidity for the best results. If you still see dry skin on legs, hands, or arms, try a soothing hydrocortisone cream.

Hormone Changes Due to Aging

Unfortunately, one of the many unavoidable changes that come with age is a decrease in oil production. This oil is what keeps skin hydrated and supple, and around 50% of people over the age of 40 experience dry skin due to a loss of oil.

Dry skin due to age is more common in women, as the hormone changes associated with menopause can dry out the skin further. To combat this dryness, use a moisturizer containing ceramides, humectants, and petrolatum daily.

You can also try HRT (hormone replacement therapy). If you’re interested in learning more about this treatment, the answers to these questions will tell you everything you need to know.

Medical Conditions

If you find yourself asking, “why is my skin so dry and flaky?” even after you’ve worked on hydration and skin care, it’s time to see a doctor.

This is because dry skin can indicate a seemingly unrelated underlying condition. Conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, HIV, hypothyroidism, and malnutrition can manifest as dry skin.

It can be difficult to determine whether your dry skin is caused by a simple change in the weather or kidney disease on your own, which is why a doctor’s appointment is recommended. However, a few telltale signs of an underlying condition to look out for include crusting, hyperpigmentation, and scaly patches.

Once the underlying condition is treated, your dry skin should clear up on its own.

Certain Frangrances

For those with sensitive skin, certain fragrances can cause dry skin, especially if you’re using products loaded with fragrances such as deodorants and skin care products.

Any time you introduce a new product into your routine, be sure that it’s the only one. Use the product for a week or two before deciding that it’s safe to use, as it often takes more than one exposure for your skin to react.

If you’re prone to contact dermatitis, it’s best to avoid fragrances altogether. Choose products that are “fragrance-free,” as lotions and other creams packed with perfume can damage your skin rather than help it.

Hot Showers

There’s nothing better than a long, hot shower or bath after a hard day. And while there’s nothing wrong with indulging now and then, subjecting your skin to these conditions frequently will dry it out.

Except on special occasions, limit your shower time to 10 minutes or less and use warm water rather than scalding hot. As soon as you get out of the shower, apply a moisturizing cream. These absorb better on damp skin than dry.

Cleansing, Beauty, and Household Products

No matter what type of product you’re purchasing, if it will come into contact with your skin, choose it carefully. Many products, from shampoo to detergent, are formulated to remove oil, and they don’t discriminate. This means they’ll remove the oil from your skin as well.

There are a few adjustments you can make to decrease your risk of dry skin. Choose a body wash over hand soap, always wear rubber gloves when handling detergents and other chemicals, and wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.

Know the Causes of Dry Skin to Keep Your Skin Healthy

Although dry skin isn’t typically a serious issue, it can be uncomfortable and damaging to your confidence. And because certain causes of dry skin point to underlying conditions, it isn’t something that should be ignored.

Taking steps to remedy dry skin, such as staying hydrated and using gentle cleansing creams, will make you feel better both inside and out.

Interested in learning more about improving all aspects of your health and wellness? Take a look at our blog!