Dry skin can be an irritating problem. Whilst dry skin conditions such as eczema have clear symptoms, suffering from 'dry skin' isn't as easy to define.
In many cases, it may be localised to the hands, fingers, heels or feet, or patches may occur on the arms and legs, face or back.
For most sufferers, dry skin is an on-going problem: but it can be managed with over the counter products.
Specific dry skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, have clear symptoms. Generally suffering from dry skin can be painful and irritating, but is treated with much less seriousness than a named condition.
Many cases of 'dry skin' are localised - it may result in chapping or cracks around the hands and fingers, feet, heels, or patches of rough, cracked or scaly skin on the arms, legs or body. Generally, dry skin is itchy and uncomfortable.
Dry skin can be caused by a number of internal and external factors. It may be related to diet and dehydration, alcohol intake or smoking, or hygiene.
Dry skin can also be triggered by environmental changes in temperature (such as air conditioning, or from sweat caused by heat), or from exposure to the sun or salty seawater.
It may also be triggered by allergies, to household products like detergents or cleaning products, or to certain food stuffs.
Men may find they suffer sensitive, dry skin on their face after shaving: ditto for women on arms or legs.
Most people with dry skin conditions can get help over the counter. A range of products are available which can help alleviate the pain and discomfort of dry skin.
Dry skin is relatively easy to treat. A range of products are available over the counter which can help alleviate discomfort and pain, and promote better skin hydration.
These include general moisturisers, which can be applied after washing, and special emollients, which can be used in place of soap and help keep skin healthy and moisturised.
Localised dry skin problems may be treated with a specialist product - for instance, skin lotion is available for dry skin patches on the body, foot creams, hand creams and heel creams are also available to combat dryness and cracking in specific areas.
Some dry skin conditions may be triggered by shaving - so be sure to moisturise before and after using a razor to help your skin to cope.
Drink plenty of fluids and carry a moisturiser with you to help soothe discomfort as and when it occurs.
Persistent dry skin conditions may be indicative of a problem like eczema or psoriasis. If in doubt, consult your GP.
Our skin prevents water from escaping our body and protects against environmental irritants. In eczema this skin-barrier is weakened, therefore water escapes (causing dryness) and irritants infiltrate the skin (causing itching and inflammation).