We’ve all suffered from dry skin at some point in one way or another. While it’s usually harmless, it can be uncomfortable and affect your self-confidence.
What causes dry skin?
In most cases, incidences of dry skin are caused by environmental factors. How susceptible you are to experiencing dry skin can be affected by a few different things, including your age, lifestyle, where you live, and your overall health. For example, if you are over 40 and a regular pool swimmer, you’re more likely to have to deal with dry skin than someone who is younger and does not swim in chlorinated waters.
Here are a few of the possible factors in your environment which could be affecting the dryness of your skin:
If you live or work in a harsh climate or regularly experience severe weather conditions, this can affect how your skin responds to your environment. Particularly in winter, when most areas experience lower temperatures and humidity levels, skin can dry out quite quickly.
On the flipside, regularly exposing your skin to sources of extreme heat can also dry out your skin. Open fires, space heaters, log burners, and even your central heating can also contribute to drier skin.
Your bathing routine
For similar reasons to the heat exposure, taking long hot baths or showers can (ironically) also cause your skin to dry out. If you are a frequent swimmer in chlorinated pools, this can also affect your skin’s moisture levels.
Your bathroom products
Depending on which products you use in the bath or shower, you may be actively removing moisture from your skin! Most products are designed to remove oil from the skin, but in doing so they strip away the moisture we desperately want to keep!
Other skin conditions
If you suffer from any skin conditions you may also be more likely to experience dry skin. Eczema, in particular, is a fairly common ailment and sufferers often exhibit signs of dry skin.
Dry skin treatments
There are many different ways to treat dry skin, but identifying the best method for you will probably require some trial and error.
You should use a relatively oily moisturiser to help prevent your skin from drying out. A cream or ointment is best for this, and your pharmacist should be able to advise of an appropriate product. Steer clear of lotions however, as these do not contain much oil and can therefore cause the skin to dry out further.
Avoid harsh soaps
Many common bathroom soaps contain harsh chemicals that can damage and dry out your skin. Particularly deodorant soaps and other fragranced skincare products can dry out your skin’s natural oils, so you avoid these products to retain more moisture.
Monitor your bathing
Take time to check in on your bathing routine and identify anything you may be doing that is inadvertently drying out your skin. Make sure to use warm (not hot) water and limit the amount of time you spend in the bath. As a rule of thumb, baths and showers should last around 5-10 minutes to avoid removing too much oil from your skin.
You should also take care when toweling off - try to pat your skin try rather than rubbing, and apply moisturiser to help retain as much water as possible.
Check your water supply
If you live in a hard water area, your skin is probably suffering as a result. Hard water contains a lot of minerals which can leave behind a residue that irritates the skin. In fact, there is a proven link between hard water and certain skin conditions, whereas soft water allows you to generate a proper lather while bathing. This means you’ll need to use less soap or shower gel for the same results, which takes less toll on your skin.
If you’re struggling with dry skin and think your water might be the cause, it’s worth considering getting a water softener for your home.
Be mindful of the fabrics you wear
Wearing clothing that contains rough fibres can be a source of irritation for your skin, so choose soft cotton and silk rather than synthetic or woolen clothes. To keep your clothes softer for longer, make sure to use a detergent that is free from harmful chemicals. This will also avoid any abrasive chemicals lingering in the fabric and irritating your skin later.
Invest in a humidifier
If you spend a lot of time indoors (as most of us do, either at home or at work) it can be a good idea to purchase a humidifier. This increases the amount of moisture in the air in your surroundings. Just be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent a build-up of germs.
Additional tips for preventing dry skin
- Wear rubber gloves when washing up
- Use a lip balm in winter to protect your lips from cracking in the harsh air
- Avoid scratching itchy, dry skin
- Use a skin-kind exfoliant regularly to get rid of dead skin
- Use a pumice stone to get rid of dry skin on the feet
American Academy of Dermatology: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin