Dry Skin – Causes, Symptoms, Home Treatmnet & Prevention

What is Dry Skin?

The skin is one of our most important organs in the human body. It protects us from the environment, representing our appearances and our senses of touch.

However, when the skin becomes dry, it may feel rough and stretched, or it may even become cracked or itchy. This means that its ability to function properly is impaired.

Extremely dry skin which can even crack
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org


Dry skin is a condition where skin stiffening is observed, as well as reduced elasticity, cracking, swelling and itching in different areas of the body.

The lack of hydration in the skin can be expressed in a variety of ways, starting from roughness, peeling and small cracks to redness, inflammation, constant tenderness and itching. These skin conditions depend on how dry the skin in the affected area is.

When the skin begins to lose its’ moisture, it feels:

– stretched

– stammered

Symptoms of very dry skin:

If the dry skin is not treated, it continues to lose moisture and becomes:

– very stretched

– swollen

– scaling

– itchy

Symptoms of rough and cracked skin

Specific areas of the body, especially the hands, legs, elbows, and knees, are prone to:

– strong tension

– severe roughness

– cracking and thickening

– intense itching

Dry facial skin

The dry facial skin gives a sense of discomfort and may even make us look older than we actually are. Drying of the skin usually occurs on the cheeks and around the eyes. The lips are often dry, especially in winter.

Dry body skin

Dry body skin may affect every body part, but most often occurs in the areas of the arms, legs, and ankles that are usually exposed to external factors that can cause this condition such as cold weather.

Xerosis [1] is the medical term for dry skin. The condition xerosis as a diagnosis means pathological, abnormal dryness. It can be due to a variety of reasons – a reduction of sebaceous secretion, bleeding, deficiency of vitamin A, dehydration of the organism, etc.

In people who are facing prolonged and permanent exposure to the sun – farmers, sailors, and others dry skin is a very common condition.

Dry skin affects the overall health because our skin normally acts as a protective barrier that holds moisture inside and irritants out of the body. The dried skin opens pores for infections. Scratching and cracking allow bacteria to enter and infect the skin.

Fortunately, the effects of dry skin are not irreversible. Often all that needs to be done is to change some habits that take away the moisture from the skin.


The dry scaly skin may be due to:

  • Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue – psoriasis, eczema, ichthyosis, dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, keratosis pilaris.
  • Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma.
  • Endocrine system diseases, nutrition and metabolism disorders – pellagra, decreased thyroid function, vitamin A deficiency, malnutrition.
  • Diseases of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue – systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Blood diseases, hematopoietic organs and individual disorders involving the immune mechanism – sarcoidosis.
  • Infectious and parasitic diseases – leprosy.
  • Diseases of the nervous system – Refsum syndrome.
  • Symptoms, signs, and abnormalities – aging, fever.

Here are some of the most common reasons why the skin dries out as well as the most convenient methods to deal with the problem:

  • Lotions for body and face cleansing

Cleansing lotions containing soap and other strong cleaners (such as sodium lauryl sulfate [3]) deprive the skin of its natural oiling, the soap is actually the most common reason for skin dryness. Other factors include the use of antibacterial soaps and lotions.

They contain cleaning chemicals, as well as triclosan, which is a good disinfectant but often causes itching and peeling of the skin.

What can improve the condition? Choose the soap, with the most traditional composition instead of liquid or body lotion, because of the ingredients used for liquefaction cause skin drying. possible, avoid antibacterial products.

  • Excessive exfoliation

The skin is itchy, irritated and can become even whitish. It is wrong if you think that by rubbing these small cracked flakes it will help. Surprisingly, heavy scuffing is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made.

Dead skin on the surface helps to restore moisture to the healthy skin underneath. If you permanently remove this protective layer, the skin could not be hydrated.

What can you do about it? Avoid using products that exfoliate the skin. Their purpose is to achieve bleaching and this will worsen the situation.

You can exfoliate your body no more than once a week (it is recommended to use a very tender exfoliating product). This way, the moisture will be absorbed more efficiently because the dead cells that can block its penetration are peeled.

Finally, as the ability of the skin to regenerate slows down with age, it is good for you to be extremely careful with the products we are applying to our skin as well as the manner we are treating it.

  • Cosmetics

It is pointless to apply a lot of moisturizing products in order to hydrate your skin if you have not selected them properly.

There are three types of moisturizing products – lotions, creams and ointments – and most people have no idea what to choose. Moisturizing products sometimes contain anti-aging ingredients – most often retinol and other forms of vitamin A.

What to do? Lotions are especially suitable for people who do not have dry skin. Creams are thicker in consistency, and ointments – even more.

Therefore, the oil-based ointments are best suited for people with dry and cracked skin, especially on the hands, elbows, knees, lips, and feet. Creams are a good choice for moisturizing the face.

If the complex words on the packaging are confusing (the containing ingredients), look for a product with ceramides [4], lactic acid [5], shea butter [6] and/or glycerin [7] – all of them have a moisturizing effect.

Hyaluronic acid [8] is also useful because it helps the skin to retain moisture and slows down its evaporation.

  • Nutrition

It is estimated that diet can really affect the skin’ appearance. A diet that is lacking in fat can make it dry. Therefore, if “fat” is a dirty word in your diet, you should actually worry about it – this may be the cause of cracked and peeling skin.

What can ease the situation? Do not prohibit foods that contain fat. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna), walnuts and olive oil.

These important fatty acids help with dry skin because they are one of the key components of sebum, the natural fat of the skin.

Another reason for dryness may be the excessive use of alcohol, which dehydrates the skin. So, if you can limit the cocktails and make sure you drink enough water – at least a liter and a half a day, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your skin.

Although experts are still uncertain about whether hydration on the inside is really beneficial, in this specific case, cells certainly need water to function.

How to fight dry skin by changing your menu

  1. Eat lots of fruit, yogurt, and fresh vegetables! They are rich in vitamins A, B, and E. For example milk, apricots, avocados, wheat germ, natural yogurt (without any additives), melons.
  2. Consume yellow and orange vegetables (carrots, pumpkin) – they are useful because they contain beta-carotene that removes the dryness of the skin.
  3. Products rich in sulfur. Sulfur helps to get rid of dry skin and stimulates metabolism. Products rich in sulfur: onion, garlic, eggs, asparagus.
  4. Flaxseed oil – there are various skin benefits the consumption of flaxseed oil can provide with. Its properties make it an excellent internal and external moisturizer for dry skin. You can also apply flax oil on your face as a topical treatment.
  • The sun

Prolonged exposure to sunlight is an undoubted damaging factor for the skin. Sun rays can break the barrier of the skin, reduce its’ natural moisture and dry it out.

What should you do? Use sunscreen every day (when you’re outdoors) whether it’s raining or shining.

Look for a lotion that protects against UVA rays (those that cause skin damage with age) and against UVB rays (those that cause burns).

For everyday use, you can choose a moisturizer with a factor of at least SPF 15, but if your skin is very sensitive, choose a lotion with a higher SPF.

  • Excessive hand washing, showering, bathing [2]

Frequent hand washing, bathing,  and showering deprive the skin of its natural humidity. What hydrates it is not water, it is actually fat. The longer you stay in the bathtub, the more the natural ointment disappears.

This is the reason why fingers wrinkle after spending too much time in hot water.

Excessive hand washing, bathing, and showering can lead to the removal of protective oils and altering the bacterial flora predispose the skin to be affected by environmental hazards such as toxins and microorganism that cause infections and irritate skin.

Home treatment

Many companies offer different products for dealing with dry skin, but there are also various natural remedies to deal with this problem alone.

Before you apply a home mask for dry skin there are some extremely important tips you need to know.

Before you apply a home mask for dry skin there are some extremely important tips you need to know.

  1. It is best to use a home facial mask as soon as possible after preparing it – this way all the ingredients will be fresh and will provide with their best qualities. However, there are some exceptions in which the facial mask can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week after it is prepared.
  2. Do not let the mask stay on the skin for more than the specified time, as this may have bad effects on your skin.
  3. Always apply facial masks on clean and dry skin!
  4. Use a humidifier in the winter. Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the skin.
  5. Limit yourself to 5- to 10-minute bath or shower daily. If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin’s oily layer and make it lose moisture. Use lukewarm rather than hot water, which can wash away natural oils.
  6. Minimize your use of soaps; if necessary, choose moisturizing preparations such as Dove, Olay, and Basis, or consider soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil, Oilatum-AD, and Aquanil. Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils.
  7. To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. If you don’t want to give them up altogether, be sure to use a light touch. For the same reason, pat or blot (don’t rub) the skin when toweling dry.
  8. Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or washing your hands. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp.
  9. To reduce the greasy feel of petroleum jelly and thick creams, rub a small amount into your hands and then rub it over the affected areas until neither your hands nor the affected areas feel greasy.
  10. Never, ever scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.
  11. Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners.
  12. Avoid wearing wool and other fabrics that can irritate the skin.

Below is a list of moisturizing masks you can apply on your face at least once a week (all of these are proven to work if applied regularly):

  • Avocado and yogurt mask

Avocado contains vitamin E as well as other natural oils that are great moisturizers for dry skin. Put the ripened peeled avocado into a blender, add 4 tablespoons yogurt, mix well and apply the mixture on your dry skin, leave it for 10-15 minutes, then rinse your face with lukewarm water.

  • Banana and yogurt mask

Yogurt and banana not only hydrate but also soften the dry skin. The preparation acts as an exfoliant and removes the dead cells. Peel a banana, crush it with a fork and add 4 tablespoons yogurt, mix well until a homogeneous composition is obtained. Apply the mixture on the skin and leave it for 10-15 minutes then rinse with lukewarm water.

  • Honey and eggs mask

Honey is a natural toner as well as a very good moisturizer for dry skin. Divide the egg yolk from, mix it with 1 tablespoon of honey, stir well and place this mixture on the dry skin. Leave it for ten minutes and then rinse with water

  • Honey and milk mask

Stir two tablespoons of honey with two tablespoons of fresh milk. Apply on dry skin and let it work for about 30 minutes, then rinse with water.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11976541
  2. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/7/2/70-0225_article
    Hygiene of the Skin: When Is Clean Too Clean?
  3. https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+1315
    SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE: Human Health Effects
  4. https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/95s0316/95s-0316-rpt0240-05-Udell-vol175.pdf
    Phyto-derived Ceramides
  5. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=7284e57d-a0bd-43ba-994d-dcdbac3fd368
    LABEL: LACTIC ACID- lactic acid lotion
  6. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02379507
    DEC033 Study Product for Mild to Moderate Eczema An Open-label, Adaptive-design Pilot Study
  7. https://www.truthinaging.com/review/Glycerin-what-is-it
    Glycerin: Does It Really Moisturize the Skin
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110621/
    Ingested hyaluronan moisturizes dry skin
Dry Skin - Causes, Symptoms, Home Treatment and Prevention
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Dry Skin - Causes, Symptoms, Home Treatment and Prevention
Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin. The condition xerosis as a diagnosis means pathological, abnormal dryness. It can be due to a variety of reasons - a reduction of sebaceous secretion, bleeding, deficiency of vitamin A, dehydration of the organism, etc.
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About the author

Monika Hristova

Monika is the Editor-in-Chief at SkinPractice. She is a skin care addict and researcher, who feels strongly about helping people with different dermatology conditions from alopecia to warts.

You can read her recommendations and advice both here at SkinPractice or at Quora where she answers skincare-related questions frequently and is the most viewed author in the Skincare category with more than 3 million views or follow her on LinkedIn.

She is also a certified skin care specialist with certification from the Medical College in Sofia.

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