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Extreme Dryness of the Skin

author image Sarah Thompson
Sarah Thompson has been a writer since 2006. She has contributed to Ohio-based publications such as "CityScene" and "Dublin Life" magazines, as well as Columbus' top alternative weekly, "The Other Paper." Thompson has also written for several online outlets, including Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, sexuality studies and visual communication design from Ohio State University.
Extreme Dryness of the Skin
A man and woman are sun bathing. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Extremely dry skin is a condition characterized by rough, itchy skin. The dryness usually occurs on the arms, legs, face and hands, and might possess cracks, scaling, lesions, peeling, pain and redness. With extreme dryness, you might even experience red patches on these areas. Extreme dryness can even interfere with sleep and other daily activities due to the discomfort and pain involved. However, by understanding the causes of and treatment methods for such skin, you can soothe your parched skin at home.

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Causes of Extreme Dryness

Factors such as age, washing too regularly with harsh soaps or shampoos and exposing the skin to harsh chemicals decrease the amount of natural skin oils present to keep your skin nourished. Environmental factors such as excessive exposure to air conditioning and central heating can cause excessive dryness, as these reduce the humidity in the environment and subsequently dry out the skin. This is also true during winter and in regions, such as the desert, where humidity is very low. Excessive sun exposure, too, can dry out the skin because of the heat. Consider too that your excessive dryness may be due to a deficiency of certain vitamins.

Radiance Regimen

According to the University of Iowa Health Care site, increasing the level of humidity in your environment may help lessen your dry skin. In addition, try to reduce the amount of exposure to harsh soaps, lessen your exposure to sunlight or sunbathing. If using an over-the-counter cream, consult your doctor on what creams he may recommend for your specific condition. Your physician will also discuss how often you should apply it and on what areas.

Diet Deficiencies

Your excessive dryness may be caused by a deficiency in certain vitamins. These include vitamins that encourage healthy nourished skin, such as potassium, vitamin B and vitamin E and vitamin A. You can find potassium in foods, such as potatoes and bananas and vitamin B in whole grains. Try corn and carrots for vitamin E and peas, spinach and oranges for sources of vitamin A. However, a healthy balance of these vitamins is required; therefore, it is best to consult your physician about an appropriate quantity of intake for each vitamin. This is determined upon your specific condition and your body’s specific absorption rate.

Doctor's Orders

Though your skin may respond to at-home treatments, chronic cases of excessively dry skin may require physician treatment, such as prescription steroid creams, depending on severity. If you have attempted unsuccessfully to remedy your skin of its dryness, consult your physician about what methods of treatment, such as an over-the-counter creams or prescription creams. If you have open lesions or cracks, your physician may suggest wraps. In addition, excessive dryness may be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, and hypothyroidism, wherein the thyroid’s underproduction of hormones causes a lack of activity in the sweat and oil glands, says the CNN Health website.

Dos and Dont's

Topical ointments, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory creams or itch-suppressant ointments, can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions due to the chemicals they contain, says the University of Iowa Health Care site. The site suggests you discontinue use immediately and consult your physician if an ointment you’re using causes more itching or burning than you initially experienced prior to application. Creams that contain menthol, camphor or pramoxine are generally safe, says the site.

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