Almost everyone’s skin feels uncomfortably dry once in a while. While it’s usually harmless and temporary, untreated dry skin (xerosis) can crack, leaving you vulnerable to bacterial infections. If you are predisposed to eczema, allowing your skin to dry out can trigger flare-ups of itching and flaking.

You can usually keep your skin feeling smooth and supple by moisturizing and by understanding and avoiding the environmental factors that dry it out. However, if dry skin causes serious discomfort and can’t be eased by self-care, consult your doctor.

Types and Causes of Dry Skin

Dry Skin – Risk Factors and Causes



Skin loses its ability to retain moisture as we age because the pores in older skin produce less oil. Around half of adults will experience some form of dry skin beginning in their 40s.



Many people experience “winter skin” – dry, itchy skin that only occurs in colder months. Cold, dry air can suck moisture out of the skin. However hot, dry weather can be just as uncomfortable.



If you spend a lot of time with your hands immersed in water or chemicals – as a housekeeper or a hair stylist, for example — your skin is likely to become dry and sensitive over time. Frequent swimming in chlorinated pools can also dry out your skin.



Areas with low humidity can dry out the skin regardless of temperature.



It’s common to experience dryness during pregnancy as hormones change and resources are diverted to sustain the growing fetus.


Bathing Habits

Frequent hot baths or showers and washing with excessive soap or harsh shower gels can remove moisturizing oils from the skin.

Medical History

Medical History

People with conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, or who come from an allergy-prone family, tend to have naturally drier, more sensitive skin. Occasionally, dry skin can be a sign of a more serious condition such as diabetes or hypothyroidism. Some medications – including antidepressants, antihypertensive drugs and chemotherapy treatments – can also upset the balance of your skin. If your dry skin is serious and persistent, consult your doctor.

Dry Skin – Symptoms and Complications

Dry Skin is Uncomfortable in Itself, But as It’s More Brittle and Prone to Cracking, It’s Also More Sensitive and Vulnerable.


Itchy (pruritis)

If your skin is itchy without an obvious reason, your first instinct may be to blame allergies or disease, but dryness alone could be the cause.

“Ashy”, gray, or reddened skin

“Ashy”, Gray or Reddened Skin

If you have darker skin, rough, dried-out patches may appear discolored and gray. If your skin is lighter, the irritation may show up as redness.

Peeling Flaking

Flaking, Peeling and Scaling

Flaky patches are unsightly and uncomfortable, and you may be tempted to pick at them. If you experience a lot of flaking on your face or scalp, it could be a sign of a condition like seborrheic eczema.



Dry skin breaks more easily – and tiny cracks can spread and deepen, becoming sores that can sometimes bleed.



Deeper cracks in the skin may open and bleed, allowing invading bacteria to get past your body’s first line of defense.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

If you’re prone to this or any form of eczema, letting your skin dry out is likely to trigger flare-ups.


Dry Skin – Prevention and Treatment


A good body moisturizer will help keep your skin supple and healthy. Sarna anti-itch lotions will moisturize dry skin and soothe itching at the same time. Apply moisturizing cream directly after bathing to prevent moisture from escaping.

Reduce your exposure to water

Long, hot showers and baths may be relaxing, but they melt away protective oils and allow more moisture to evaporate from your skin. Try to bathe in cool or warm — rather than hot — water, and don’t stay in the water for more than ten minutes. Avoid bathing more than once a day.

Use mild bathing products

Cleansers that contain strong detergents, perfumes or alcohol can dry out your skin, as can soaps with antibacterial or deodorant additives. Look for moisturizing, fragrance-free options.

Invest in a humidifier

If the climate is aggravating your dry skin, a humidifier can help keep your symptoms under control.

Wear waterproof gloves

If you can’t avoid immersing your hands in water, keep them covered. If you have eczema or dermatitis you can protect your hands further by wearing light cotton gloves under the outer waterproof ones.

Cover exposed skin

Even if the cold itself doesn’t bother you, wearing gloves and scarves will protect your skin from chapping and flaking.