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Dry skin condition

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Skin is the largest organ of our body. It is also the organ that represents us. The most superficial layer of our skin is known as epidermis. It contains protein and lipid (fat) . It is the lipid portion of our skin that protects us from dehydration. Dry skin also known as Xeroderma, results when this protection is lost.

Dry skin is a very common skin condition. It occurs due to lack of the appropriate amount of water in the most superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis. This condition is quite common to both males and females but older individuals are typically much more prone to develop dry skin. This is because elderly individuals tend to have diminished amount of natural skin oils and lubricants.

Dry skin is usually a mild, temporary condition that last a few days to weeks.

Symptoms

Dry skin presents with mild discomfort, skin tightness and itching. Sometimes, weather can affect the severity of skin dryness. Winter season usually worsens dry skin condition. It's important to remember that dry skin may also be a side effect of some medications (diuretics, cholesterol lowering drugs, acne medications like retinoic acid etc) or a symptom of an underlying medical disorder. Most commonly involved areas of dry skin condition are lower legs, hands and forearms.

Causes

Cold temperatures and low humidity

Increasing age,

Family history

Personal history of asthma, atopic dermatitis, thyroid disorder (usually hypothyroidism) , malnutrition, psoriasis, diabetes

Over-washing with harsh soap

Overuseof cleaning agents

Treatment options
Simple lifestyle changes and small measures are very effective in the treatment of dry skin. Basic prevention steps include avoidance of harsh soaps and chemical cleaning agents. We can use emollients, topical steroid (hydrocortison, triamcinolone creams) , anti histamine like medications (loratidine, cetirizine, desloratidine, fexofenadine etc) for itching. Of them, emollients are essentially the cornerstone of recent treatment strategy. They are applied directly to the skin. In very dry skin conditions emollients helps us by :


a.moisturizing our skin


b.helping our skin retaining water


c.reducing scaling


d.softening cracks


e.easing itching

Once applied to the skin, the emollients may stay on the surface, be metabolized, or disappear from the surface by evaporation. In addition to substances considered as actives like fats and humectants, emollients contain many substances conventionally known as excipients (e.g. emulsifiers, antioxidants, preservatives). These excipients have more pronounced effects in the skin. They improve the clinical appearance and skin barrier function. Emollients can be used to replace lost moisture whenever our skin feels dry or tight. They are very safe and we can't overuse them because they don't get absorbed through our skin into our body. That's why, they are are the mainstay of treatment.

If you have dry skin, consult your physician today and choose the type of emollient suitable for your skin.

About the Author

Dr Rezahaider's picture
Author: Dr Rezahaider

I am a physician by profession. I dream to work on medicine in the near future. I have completed my residency three years back. Now, I am planning to obtain MRCP. This is very hard exam and surely, I am always scared of it. I have also decided to do my specialization on cardiology. Before medical school, I never thought that our heart could be so complex! So pray for me. I usually don't have enough time to write due to my studies. But whenever I get time I love to write. I write on medical related issues. I try to make it simple for you.

2 Comments

Bhagavan P S's picture
Bhagavan P S says:

Thank you. Very informative blog.

Bhagavan P.S. B Pharm

Rtd. Dy Dir.(Pharmacy),Govt of Karnataka, India
Registrar, KSPC, Bengaluru, India
Submitted by Bhagavan P S on Fri, 01/04/2013 - 10:56
Dr Rezahaider's picture

Sir, I really appreciate that. Thank you for your kindness.

rhaider  

Submitted by Dr Rezahaider on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 16:23