Extreme Dry Skin
Extreme dry skin is a common problem afflicting both men and women. It appears more often in older persons and is generally a nuisance but rarely a serious problem. Dry skin often occurs in patches, especially on the face, elbows and knees. Home treatments are generally effective, but a physician should treat chronic cases of extremely dry skin.
The most frequent symptoms of extreme dry skin are scaly or peeling areas that may appear raised, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. These patches are rough to the touch, and peeling occurs as cells slough off. The skin may appear shrunken or wrinkled. It may itch or burn with these symptoms being exasperated by scratching. These dry areas can develop deep cracks in severe cases.
Dry skin can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Some reasons are dry atmosphere, low humidity, spending much time in the sun, chemicals in soaps and detergents and too frequent showering or an excessive amount of time swimming. Extreme dry skin can also result from certain diseases including psoriasis, hypothyroidism and the very serious but rare inherited disorder called ichthyosis.
While anyone may develop extreme dry skin, certain people are more likely than others to develop it. They include individuals who live in areas of high heat and low humidity, those who spend an inordinate amount of time out of doors, competitive swimmers and persons over the age of 65. Also, multiple family members could suffer from dry skin because they live in similar environmental conditions rather than dry skin being an inherited trait.
When dry skin is left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions. One of these complications is atopic dermatitis, which is commonly referred to as eczema. The symptoms of this condition include reddened skin, cracks or fissures and inflammation. Another possible result of untreated extreme dry skin is folliculitis in which hair follicles become inflamed. Cellulitis can develop as bacteria invades the underlying layers of your skin. Cellulitis can occasionally become severe and lead to hospitalization.
The first line of defense against extreme dry skin is the use of moisturizers. Choose a thick cream and apply often. Other treatments include limiting the duration of time spent in water, selecting gentle and moisturizing body wash or gel rather than bar soaps, and installing a humidifier in your home. Use sunscreen with moisturizers when you are going to be outside for a period of time, put on gloves when you perform household chores and wear clothing made from soft materials that are gentle to your skin. If your extreme dry skin does not improve after these steps, you should see a dermatologist.
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