Dry and Flaking Skin
Dry and flaking skin can be a nuisance, but it is typically a mild and temporary problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, its severity can vary based on factors such as your age, health, location and the underlying cause, says the Mayo Clinic. Some simple lifestyle adjustments can alleviate many cases of dry and flaking skin, but persistent cases may need extra attention.
In addition to having flaking, scaling or peeling skin, you may experience a host of other signs and symptoms depending on the underlying cause. Your skin may: look and feel tight, shrunken and rough; have lines or cracks in it; be intensely itchy; look red and have deep fissures that might bleed, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Weather is a major cause of dry and flaking skin. You may notice that your skin loses moisture during the dry winter months or when you are in an arid desert region, says the Mayo Clinic. Having a heater on during the winter or an air conditioner on during warm months can exacerbate dry skin. Other contributors to dry and flaking skin are: taking frequent hot showers or baths, using harsh soaps or detergents, and getting too much sun exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Skin conditions may be the source of your dry and flaking skin. Common skin condition culprits are: psoriasis, which causes dry, dead skin cells to build up rapidly and create a scaly appearance; reduction of oil and sweat gland activity from thyroid disorders; ichthyosis vulgaris, which appears as dry, thick scales when skin cells don't shed as they should; and eczema craquele, which causes dry skin with fissures, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Skin flaking can also occur alongside a dermatitis, which is skin inflammation, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Common forms of dermatitis are seborrheic dermatitis, which appears as scaling on the eyebrows, scalp and nose; allergic contact dermatitis, which may occur after contact with a substance such as poison ivy, and atopic dermatitis, which is dry and itchy skin that runs in families, says the Cleveland Clinic.
If your skin condition is caused by your lifestyle or external environment, taking some basic precautions can help reduce the dryness and flaking. Take lukewarm showers that are under 15 minutes, apply a moisturizer any time you shower or wash your hands, use a home humidifier and wear breathable fabrics such as cotton, says the Mayo Clinic. For many, the best moisturizers to use during the winter are creams and ointments and the best for summer months are lotions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Talk to your doctor if: you don't see any rash but your skin itches, you are so dry and itchy that you have trouble sleeping, your home treatments aren't relieving your dry and flaking skin or you see any open sores where you have been scratching, says MedlinePlus. Your doctor may need to prescribe a medication cream or an antibiotic if your skin is infected. He may also need to treat an underlying health condition such as hypothyroidism if he believes that it is responsible for your dry and flaking skin.
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