Dry skin is a very common condition characterized by a lack of the appropriate amount of water in the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin. While dry skin tends to affect males and females equally, older individuals are typically much more prone to dry skin. The skin in elderly individuals tends to have diminished amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants. Areas such as the arms, hands and particularly lower legs tend to be more affected by dry skin. Dryness of the skin is also affected by the amount of water vapor in the surrounding air, the humidity.
The epidermis is normally composed of fat (lipid) and protein. The lipid portion of the epidermis helps prevent skin dehydration. When the skin’s fatty oils are removed, the skin loses its protection and loses moisture more easily. As skin becomes dry, it also may become more sensitive and prone to rashes and skin breakdown. This condition is sometimes referred to as xerosis. Dry skin may be an entirely invisible skin condition or may cause a fine, dry, powder-like appearance of the skin. Untreated, dry skin may become irritated and result in a red rash (xerodermatitis).
Dry skin may be a mild, temporary condition lasting a few days to weeks. For some, dry skin may also become a more severe, long-term skin problem. Symptoms of dry skin include discomfort from skin tightness and itching. In addition, external factors such as weather can affect the severity of skin dryness. For example, cold or dry air and winter weather can worsen dry skin. Individuals whose occupations require more frequent hand-washing and sanitizing may experience dry skin more often. Dry skin may also be a side effect of some medications.
Fortunately, dry skin is usually mild and can be easily remedied. Simple prevention and treatment measures are very effective in the treatment of dry skin. Basic dry skin prevention includes avoidance of harsh soaps and chemical cleansers. If you are experiencing dry skin, contact The Center for Advanced Dermatology in Phoenix by calling 602-867-7546 or visiting mddermsolutions.com to schedule an appointment with Dr. Holy, who can diagnose and treat your unique skin issues.