Almost everyone will experience dry skin in their lifetime. Estimates show between 29% and 85%* of the world’s population are dealing with rough, scaly and dull skin, and it only becomes more prevalent as we age.
And while it’s physically uncomfortable, dry skin can also skew the way we feel about our skin’s appearance, impacting our self-confidence.
During Skin Awareness Month, we want to share the good news – that dry skin is easily treatable. Let’s take a look at the causes and remedies.
Dry skin can be caused by any number of factors, from extreme weather conditions like heat or low humidity to excessive exposure to soap-based products and even tight clothing—basically, anything that interferes with our skin’s all-important top layer: the stratum corneum.
In healthy, hydrated skin, the stratum corneum is packed with fatty acids and other lipids that prevent moisture from escaping. They also protect against infectious threats and pollutants.
When this seal is damaged by chafing, blisters or chemical exposure, moisture escapes – and so begins a cycle of water loss and damage that causes rough, scaly or dull skin that can feel tight, itchy or sting.
In addition to that, the stratum corneum thins as we age, meaning it’s easier for moisture to escape. In a cruel twist, this can actually make us look older than we are.
Hydration is the aim of the game when it comes to preventing and treating dry skin. And that means drinking plenty of water, wearing loose, natural fabrics when it’s practical to do so as well as protecting your skin from the elements if you’re working or exercising outdoors and the dehydrating effects of air conditioning exposure, indoors.
You should also be using specially formulated moisturisers on your face and body in the mornings and evenings.
Moisturisers can help to maintain smoothness on the skin’s outer layer and help stop moisture from escaping, but the type of moisturiser you need will depend on the type and extent of damage you’re dealing with.
For your face
Fat, or lipid-based moisturisers like Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Moisturiser, have emollient properties that improve the texture and appearance of dry skin. They’re best used on your face.
Some moisturisers contain a group of ingredients known as occlusives, which form a physical layer on top of the skin to prevent moisture from escaping from the skin’s cracked top layer. They can be used on the face and body to help with the recovery process.
For thirsty skin
Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, urea and glycerol are known as “humectants” and draw water molecules into the skin. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our bodies but declines as we age, so incorporating it into your morning and evening skincare routines daily can help our skin replenish and retain moisture.
Moisturisers containing hyaluronic acid are also great at speeding up moisture recovery in particularly thirsty areas, like cracked heels.
Excessively dry skin that isn’t resolved by general care and prevention could be a sign you’re suffering from an underlying skin condition. If that’s the case, have it checked out by a dermatologist and follow the prescribed treatment.
*Mekic S, Pardo LM, Jacobs L, Nijsten T, et al. Prevalence and determinants for xerosis cutis in the middle-aged and elderly population: A cross-sectional study. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. 2018