Anyone who’s prone to dry skin knows how frustrating it can be to manage the endless tubs of of lotions and potions needed to keep hands, face or legs from cracking up. But do you know what might be causing the desiccation?
From the water you wash in to the air that you breathe, we take a look at six causes of dry skin that might surprise you!
1. Chronic Health Conditions
It’s long been known that genetics play a part in determining whether people are prone to eczema and psoriasis, but did you know that other long-term conditions can have a profound effect on the skin? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if dry skin is just one of those things you live with or a sign of something amiss at a deeper level that is affecting the healthy regeneration of the epidermis, but if your skin becomes very dry all of a sudden, tell your doctor. Hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney disease and some vitamin deficiencies can manifest in dry skin, so get it checked out!
Some medications can cause dry skin by affecting the skin barrier function and causing moisture loss; these include medications for blood pressure, acne and cholesterol. If you’re taking drugs for these conditions, it’s usual to have to take extra care of your skin by loading up on the emollients.
Everyone washes with soap, right? Wrong! Soap is a major contributing factor in the development of dry skin on the hands, face and body, because it can strip away vital oils leaving the skin vulnerable to dryness and damage. People whose epidermis is already under strain would do well to avoid all soap completely, even the lovely natural varieties.
Try soapless, PH-neutral cleansers which use very gentle surfactants instead, or give the Oil Cleansing Method a go: Purepotions makes a fantastic facial cleansing oil just for this purpose.
Water?! But water is essential for life, isn’t it? Well, yes, drinking plenty of water is a really good way of keeping your skin hydrated from the inside, but when skin is in frequent or extended contact with water on the outside, it can lose the vital natural oils it needs to keep cells plump and healthy.
Hard water, chlorinated water, lots of hot showers or baths, having to wash your hands constantly: any of these might be the culprit causing long term dry skin, so keep an eye on how your skin might be reacting to the water you use.
Even the very air you breathe can affect your skin! Air with low humidity can cause the water in your skin to evaporate more quickly, leaving it dry, sore, flaky or cracked. If you spend all day in a centrally heated room, try to boost the moisture in the air with a humidifier. And if you’re outside a lot in windy, cold or very hot weather - especially the dry heat of the Northern hemisphere - then you’ll need to make sure your skin is protected from dehydration with some really good oil-based emollients.
Unfortunately, sometimes dry skin just develops with age. Even if you’ve had trouble-free skin all your life, it’s not unusual for skin to react to hormonal changes in middle age and need some extra help to stay well hydrated. Try feeding your skin with extra-nutritious oils and creams to give it what it needs to stay healthy.