Flaky, extremely dry skin is a skincare guru's worst nightmare no matter where it shows up. Known by its scientific moniker of Xerosis, skin dryness can affect all skin types and can be caused by a multitude of external factors.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to both treat it and prevent it from making its appearance again. Here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents:
- The Main Skin Types and Xerosis
- Some of the Most Common Causes of Dry Skin
- Recommended Treatments for Extremely Dry Skin
The Main Skin Types and Xerosis
If you are into skincare, you probably already know about the different types of skin and their main characteristics. But just to recap:
- Normal skin is not too oily nor too dry, and it does not need special care.
- Dry skin can be a temporary state of the skin caused by factors like the weather, but it can be a permanent state for others. Dry skin is usually flaky because it cracks, and like sensitive skin, it allows bacteria to penetrate in and grow. People with dry skin report feelings of tightness and roughness.
- Oily skin happens because the sebaceous glands produce more sebum than necessary. It usually looks greasy with large pores, and it is prone to acne due to clogged pores.
- Combination skin is a mix of dry and oily skin or normal and oily skin. It tends to be oily in the forehead and nose areas and dry or normal on the cheeks.
- Sensitive skin is more likely to react to products and other external factors, causing discomfort, redness, itching. The protective skin layer is not as powerful, so it’s easy for bacteria and other irritants to penetrate and damage it. It’s usually very dry, rough and needs a special skincare regime.
If your skin is excessively dry, then it might be a case of Xerosis. It is a condition of dry skin accompanied by cracks, scaling, and roughness, and it might appear around the winter season or worsen because of it.
Dry skin can be caused by many factors, such as the weather, certain conditions like atopic dermatitis, using the wrong products, overwashing. These things can reduce the production of sebum more than it is needed, so there is no natural moisture; therefore the skin needs more care.
Anyone can suffer from xerosis, no matter their gender or age, but dry skin tends to appear especially with age, as the skin can no longer retain moisture as it used to.
Some of the Most Common Causes of Dry Skin
Dry skin can be caused by a multitude of external factors, including:
Using the wrong products
If you are dealing with extremely dry skin, you might want to check the ingredient list of the products you use on your face and body, particularly soaps.
To be able to clean, soaps usually lather a lot, and they do that because of sulfates, chemical cleaning agents that scrub your skin and are very harsh, usually stripping away the natural oils, leaving your skin feel tight and rough.
Living in an area with low humidity means that there is not enough moisture in the air for your skin to absorb.
If you’ve recently moved to a dryer climate and noticed that you have xerosis, then the environment is the number one cause for your dry skin.
Going hand in hand with the wrong products, washing too frequently can also strip away your natural oils. For the best results, wash your face twice a day while you're doing your skincare routine – once when you wake up, and once when you go to sleep.
When you’re done, try applying a face cream rich in vitamin C. Its citrus-filled formula will ensure that your patchy skin is treated to the most refreshing, smoothening, and brightening glow-up every time you apply it.
This condition makes the skin dry, red, and itchy. It’s most common in children, but it can occur at any age.
More commonly known as eczema, atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition that flares up periodically and there is no cure-all treatment for it.
Ichthyosis is a condition that makes the skin scaly, dry, and rough, and it needs constant care to soothe the symptoms. Like with atopic dermatitis, there is no known cure.
Recommended Treatments for Extremely Dry Skin
If you believe that your skin is too dry for its good, it's best to get an appointment with a dermatologist. A specialist will know what exactly you are dealing with, the source of the condition, and how to best treat it. Generally, dermatologists will recommend hydrating ointments and picking up some habits that will help your skin long-term.
As already mentioned, you shouldn’t wash your face more than twice a day: once in the morning and once before going to sleep. Also, do not shower multiple times a day, and try not to take too long in the bathroom – keep your skincare sessions no longer than 30 minutes.
Since we’re on the topic of showering, if you use hot water when you wash, you should know that it also contributes to having extremely dry skin. Instead, use lukewarm water. When you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry, do not rub it. Rubbing is damaging your skin and flaring it up, possibly making it crack as well.
If the products that you use on the skin do contain sulfates, as we have explained previously, get rid of them immediately, and look for gentler products instead! Look for products that deeply nourish your skin and prevent water loss.
Finally, as soon as you get out of the shower, apply a highly moisturizing body butter. This is the most effective time to do so as your pores are still open, ready to absorb all that moisture, and the cream will also act as an extra protective layer to seal in the hydration you got from showering.