Skin on your chest shows aging and sun damage as much as your face and arms do but often doesn't receive the same care and attention as your face. Red, dry coarse skin on your chest can be due to sun damage, aging or a symptom of conditions such as contact dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. It can also presage skin cancer.
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As you age, your skin becomes drier. As a result, the skin on your chest may begin to wrinkle, as the skin becomes drier, thinner and less elastic. It may also redden and develop flakes and dry patches called actinic keratoses. Moisturize the skin on your chest whenever you apply moisturizing lotion or cream to your face and arms. After every bath or shower, apply cream while your skin is still damp.
Contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to harsh soaps and detergents or new skin products. Atopic dermatitis is related to asthma and hay fever and is aggravated by exposure to allergens such as pollen or allergens in your skin care products or detergents and fabric softeners. Your skin will appear red, dry and scaly and will often feel itchy. If your red damaged skin changes over a period of time, sometimes better and sometimes worse, it may be due to environmental allergies or irritation from products your use.
Sun damage is cumulative. Constant exposure to sunlight or occasional severe sunburns can cause your skin to become red, dry and coarse. Apply sunscreen every day, just as you apply it to your face and arms. Moisturize daily, especially after your bath or shower when your skin is moist. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer, so have your dermatologist check your skin at least once a year.
Psoriasis is due to overproduction of skin cells, leading to dry scaly patches of skin which can appear red or white, can flare up and subside. It is due to an overactive immune system. Treatment involves medications that interrupt the immune signals and slow down the growth of skin cells and creams that exfoliate or remove some of the dry skin. If you have red, dry, scaly patches on your chest rather than having the entire chest area red and dry, you may have psoriasis and should see your physician for treatment.
You can improve your skin condition by improving your nutrition, eating more fruits and vegetables, substituting healthy oils high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids instead of animal fats, and drinking eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. Replace the natural oils that have been stripped from your skin through exposure or harsh detergents by applying moisturizers containing alpha hydroxy acid or a soothing oil such as wheat germ or jojoba oil.