Body dryness, or dry skin, is a common problem that usually can be treated with over-the-counter or home remedies. There are a number of dry skin causes, one being simple neglect. The skin needs to be looked after and cared for or else dry skin can lead to more serious conditions.
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While most dry skin conditions are typically not serious, more severe cases can require professional help from a dermatologist. Dry skin is known in the medical field as xerosis, and can result in the appearance of lines and wrinkles by converting healthy skin cells into dried out, shriveled ones. A group of more debilitating dry skin conditions, called ichthyosis, is inherited and can even be disfiguring.
Over your lifetime, your skin loses moisture, causing it to dry out. Seasonal changes in the weather can also have an effect on your skin. Winters and dry climates with low humidity are common causes for dried-out skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In addition, too much showering or bathing can break down lipid barriers, depleting the skin of its moisture. Other causes include too much sun exposure, beauty products such as soaps and shampoos, and psoriasis, a skin condition that leads to scaling and rough, dry skin.
More serious cases of dry skin on the body can result in dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatitis is also known as eczema and is usually clearly visible. The skin may appear to be chalky and severely dehydrated. Dermatologists often prescribe cortisone-type medicines or an immunomodulator that are topically applied. In addition, regular use of a moisturizing lotion should help reduce dermatitis flare-ups.
One of the more serious skin conditions that can develop out of dry skin on the body is ichthyosis vulgaris. This disease, also sometimes called the fish scale disease or fish skin disease, hinders skin cells from normal shedding, according to MedlinePlus. Typically, your body gets rid of old skin cells as new ones are developed. With ichthyosis vulgaris, skin cells remain on the skin's surface and accumulate until scales begin to grow. The disease can also result in cracks and bloody fissures on your hands and feet.
Most dry skin cases can be treated with simple home remedies. Perhaps the most important step you can take is to consistently moisturize your entire body with a thick lotion. Oil can also be useful in hydrating the skin, as it can help prevent water from evaporating. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests limiting the amount of time you spend showering and/or bathing, especially with harsh soaps, as it can remove oils from your skin. A humidifier can help by adding moisture to conditioned air that is dry. Often, the dry air inside can have as adverse of an effect on your skin as the climate outside. Finally, wear non-restrictive clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton. While natural fibers generally are encouraged, avoid wool, as it may irritate already dry skin.