Dry Skin Causes

By: Della Franklin

If you're wondering why certain dry skin treatments aren't working for you, it might be because you're addressing the wrong cause. Dry skin has many different causes, and as a consequence has many different treatments. It is important to know what exactly causes your dry skin in order to know the best solution.

Dry skin is caused by three major factors: (1) environment, (2) neglect, and (3) medical conditions.

Environment

Environmental exposure is the most common cause of dry skin. For instance, winter is the time when most people experience "winter itch," which is characterized by flaky dry skin. The temperature and humidity levels drop sharply during winter, and the cold and the wind can leave your skin chapped and sore by sapping its moisture and natural oils. On the other hand, this is also true if you live in the desert
climates, where humidity levels plummet as the temperature rises.

Pollution is also an environmental cause of dry skin. A 1997 Berkeley study showed that exposure to ozone concentrations drained the skin's supply of Vitamin E by 25% in as little as two hours. People are more prone to this risk in cities with high ozone densities, such as Los Angeles and Mexico City. Smoke and dust also absorb the moisture in the skin, leaving it parched.

Even climate-controlled environments can play a part in drying your skin. Modern-day mechanical wonders, such as centralized heating and air-conditioning, can actually cause humidity levels to drop inside the living space and cause dry skin. Forced-air furnaces and fireplaces also contribute to dry skin. Devices such as household humidifiers can help prevent this.

While it's common knowledge that the sun (like all types of heat) dries the skin, it should also be worth noting that ultraviolet (UV) radiation damages the dermis, deep beneath the top layer of the skin. Collagen and elastin fibers break down more quickly than normal when this happens, paving the way for wrinkles and sagging skin. While sun-exposed skin only looks like ordinary dry skin, the damage done is actually much worse than it initially appears. Sunscreen should be used daily to avoid this.

Neglect

Surprisingly, even the chlorine in ordinary tap water can cause irritated and dry skin. Hot water baths and spas can also contribute to shriveled dry skin when used frequently. To avoid dry skin, only lukewarm water should be
used. Pat or blot your skin dry with a towel and use a moisturizer immediately after showering or bathing in order to trap in the moisture.

Using too many cosmetics will also cause dry skin. The ingredients in these are often skin irritants. Many soaps are also harsh on the skin. To avoid this, don't use detergent-based soaps.

Lifestyle also dictates skin health. A skin-unhealthy diet, characterized by the lack of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish, can strip you of important vitamins that promote healthy skin. Having too much caffeine, alcohol, fried food and processed vegetable oil can also boost dry skin.

Lack of exercise deprives your skin of the benefits of better blood flow. Even a half-hour of aerobic exercise three times a week can give your skin a healthy glow. Regular exercise will nourish and cleanse your skin from within by promoting circulation and sweating. Dry skin, as well as a host of other health problems, can be avoided by incorporating exercise in your life.

Lastly, lack of sleep also promotes dry skin. The body naturally repairs damaged skin cells during this resting phase. Getting enough sleep is probably the simplest thing you can do to avoid dry skin.

Medical Conditions

You might be following a healthy lifestyle and using all the skin remedies you can find, and still be suffering from dry skin. If you are, you might be unlucky enough to be suffering from a medical condition. Some of the more common symptoms are listed below:

1.) Despite your best efforts, your skin condition does not improve.

2.) Dryness and itching are severe enough to interfere with sleeping.

3.) You have open sores or infections from scratching.

4.) You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin.

See your doctor or consult a dermatologist when you encounter one or more of the symptoms listed above. Your doctor will most likely conduct a physical exam and ask you about your medical history, including when you first started having dry skin, your lifestyle, and how you care for your skin. Your doctor may also administer diagnostic tests and examinations in order to determine whether or not your dry skin is in fact a more serious underlying medical condition.

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