There are internal as well as external factors that can cause dry skin. If you've been abusing your hide, though, you probably know it. To make sure we've covered all the bases, let's discuss a few medical conditions that can cause skin dryness:
- Eczema - A mild form of eczema called atopic dermatitis is sometimes confused with dry skin. It usually causes redness, itching, blistering and inflammation.
- Psoriasis - Characterized by scaly deposits on the skin, this can seem like simple dry skin at first.
- Hypothyroidism - An underactive thyroid can lead to a decrease in the production of skin oil (called sebum), as well as reduced sweating. Sweat and sebum combine on your skin to produce a pH-controlled barrier to bacteria and a natural moisturizer that keeps skin supple.
- Vitamin A deficiency - Rough, dry skin can be the result of vitamin A deficiency. This one may present with eye inflammation, night blindness, dry eye, respiratory infection or urinary tract infection.
- High blood pressure - Some high blood pressure medications can contribute to dry skin, too. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor, or read the printed insert on the medications you're taking.
- Diabetes - Diabetics experience changes in glucose levels that affect the skin's moisture content, leading to dryness when levels are low.
While the list above may hold the reason for your dry skin, the more likely cause is the world around you. If you work outdoors, are a sun worshipper or are taking diuretics, you're a prime candidate for dry skin. Other contributing factors are diet, dehydration and even stress. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winter conditions and you don't have an indoor humidifier, you could also suffer from seasonal skin dryness when you crank up the heat over the winter months.
You may be inadvertently causing dry skin by participating in activities that damage your skin's natural acid barrier, the layer of oil that protects it from bacteria and harsh external conditions. Some grooming and other habits that cause occasional or persistent dry skin are:
- taking long, hot showers or baths
- using harsh soaps
- spending lots of time in the hot tub
- coming in contact with drying materials like salt, clay or paper on a regular basis
- spending time in areas where the air is dry, like near a heating vent or fireplace
- smoking (Depending on the circumstances, smoking can sometimes cause oily skin, too.)
Let's take a look at some products that will replenish the moisture in your dry skin. Actually, you might be surprised at how easy and painless it is to soften those dry feet or get some relief for your razor-abused cheeks.