How do you know if you have dry skin?
You may have dry skin if you have one or several of the below-mentioned signs and symptoms:
- Redness or grayness
- Cracked or chapped lips
What can cause dry skin?
Your skin naturally secretes oil, called sebum. Sebum helps protect your skin cells against infection and keeps it hydrated. When your skin doesn’t produce enough sebum, it can become dry and dull. Some of the possible causes of dry skin include:
- Weather — Facial skin is the driest in winter, when humidity and temperature are low. You can also develop dry flaky skin on your face if you reside in dry, desert areas.
- Heat — Fireplaces, central heating, space heaters, and wood-burning stoves all decrease humidity levels and can dry your skin.
- Hot showers and baths — You can develop flaky skin by taking long, too-hot showers. Your facial skin can also get dry if you frequently swim, especially in heavily chlorinated swimming pools.
- Harsh soaps — Washing your face with harsh soaps can strip moisture and oil from the skin, drying it out.
- Exposure to sun — Excessive exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun can also cause dry skin patches on your face.
Anyone can get dry skin, but the risk increases if:
- You are 40 years or older.
- You live in cold, low-humidity, or dry climates.
- You often swim in chlorinated swimming pools.
Can dry skin be a symptom of anything serious?
If your dry skin doesn’t get better with usual treatments, it may be a symptom of other skin problems such as eczema (atopic dermatitis) or psoriasis. Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause dry, flaking, itchy skin on the sides of your nose, scalp, and eyebrows.
Remedies for dry skin on the face
Here are some different remedies you can try for treating dry, flaky skin:
Creams, ointments, and moisturizers help improve the natural barrier function of your skin. This promotes retention of water and prevents skin dryness. You can get extra benefit by applying moisturizer before going to bed at night and then washing your face using a gentle cleanser when you wake up in the morning. Choose moisturizers that contain gentle ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and colloidal oatmeal. Some moisturizers contain ingredients that can worsen your dry face. In general, you should avoid skincare products that contain the following ingredients:
- Artificial colors or fragrances
- Alpha-hydroxy acid
You can also apply natural moisturizers on your face to relieve dryness. Some of these include:
- Pure gel of aloe vera
- Shea butter
- Coconut oil
You can apply a lip balm to relieve chapped, cracked, or dry lips.
Use a mild, gentle cleanser
Soaps that contain colors, fragrances, and other chemical ingredients may make your skin dry. It’s better to use mild, gentle cleansers and soaps that don’t contain added fragrances. Also avoid products with artificial colors, plastics, and alcohols. Ingredients in facial cleansers that you should avoid include:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
You should wash and clean your facial skin gently. Use your fingertips to rub your face gently instead of rubbing it with a washcloth or sponge. Don’t wash your face several times per day. If you have dry skin, it is best to wash your face twice daily and after perspiring heavily. Only exfoliate once a week (not daily). This can help reduce the irritation that accompanies harsh scrubbing.
Dry skin may worsen with exposure to cold and dry weather. Cover your face with a scarf when in cold weather to prevent this. Make sure to avoid scratchy, rough fabrics.
Install a humidifier
The skin on your face can become dry due to low humidity. Installing a humidifier in your house may help add some moisture to indoor air.
Ways to prevent dry skin
Here are some ways to prevent dry skin on your face:
- Wash your face twice daily using a mild and gentle cleanser and slightly warm water.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after you take a bath or shower, as it helps lock in moisture.
- Protect your skin by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
- Apply petroleum jelly to moisturize your face.
- Use a cream or ointment instead of a lotion on your dry skin. Look for products that contain natural oil such as jojoba or olive oil. Other ingredients that can help soothe dry skin are urea, lactic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, petrolatum, and lanolin.
- Limit your time in the shower to 5–10 minutes. Use warm, not-too-hot water to wash your face or take a bath.
- Maintain hydration by drinking lots of water.
- Limit your intake of caffeine.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid tanning.
When to see a dermatologist
You should see a dermatologist in the following situations:
- If you have dry skin on your face even after taking regular care of your skin
- If redness accompanies dry skin
- If itching and dryness disturbs your sleep
- If you develop infections or open sores due to scratching
- If you believe that your dry face skin is due to another skin condition
Lifestyle and environmental factors can cause dry skin. You can manage and prevent its occurrence by using mild, gentle treatments. If your dry, flaky skin doesn’t get better, or gets worse, you should see a dermatologist.