What Are the Causes of Extremely Dry Patches of Skin?
There are many different potential causes for extremely dry patches of skin, the most common of which involve simple environmental factors. However, you may develop dry skin patches due to an underlying medical condition. If you have extremely dry skin patches that cause you pain or severe itching, or are accompanied by other symptoms, consult your physician or a dermatologist.
Low Humidity Levels
The most common cause of dry skin patches in healthy individuals is low air humidity. If you notice dry, itchy patches of skin on your arms, legs and the sides of your abdomen during winter, the likely cause is the weather, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. The drier air during winter can dry out your skin. Also, exposure to indoor heating and air conditioning can lower humidity levels and cause dry patches on your skin, the Mayo Clinic says. Dry skin that occurs in the winter is often called "winter itch."
Bathing in Hot Water
If you take baths or shower frequently using hot water, you may experience dry patches in your skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Long or frequent exposure to hot water can harm your skin's lipid barriers, causing your skin to dry out. Also, you may develop dry skin patches if you bath frequently using harsh soaps, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many shampoos, as well as antibacterial or deodorant soaps, can remove the moisture and lipids from your skin.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes dry dead skin cells to buildup quickly and form rough, scaly patches. If you have psoriasis, you may notice that the dry skin patches look thick and whitish, silvery or reddish, notes the University of Michigan Health System. The scaly patches associated with psoriasis typically occur on the skin of the joints, hands, feet and lower back, as well as the scalp. Psoriasis can be mild to severe and often comes and goes. The dry skin patches caused by this skin condition may be small or rather large, itchy and uncomfortable.
Eczema can also cause dry skin patches, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Like psoriasis, eczema causes scaly, thick patches of dry skin and can occur in "flare ups." If you have eczema, you might experience intense itching and the skin patches may look reddish, explains the University of Michigan Health System. The dry skin patches often develop small blisters that can ooze when ruptured and dry to form a crust.
Most often occurring in children, keratosis pilaris causes dry skin patches that have reddish bumps. This condition often causes the skin to feel like sandpaper due to the tiny bumps that are made of dead skin cells, explains the American Academy of Dermatology. The dry skin patches are usually itchy and become worse when air humidity levels are low. Occurring typically on the thighs, upper arms and cheeks, the skin patches from karatosis pilaris usually go away in adulthood, says the American Academy of Dermatology.
One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is dry skin and brittle nails, says the University of Michigan Health System. Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormone, causing many different symptoms, from fatigue to memory problems to constipation. You may develop dry, rough skin patches from hypothyroidism due to the hormonal effects on your oil and sweat glands, the Mayo Clinic explains.
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