If you’ve ever experience dry, itchy and flaky skin, chances are you slathered on moisturiser by the bucketload in order to rescue your skin. You probably also upped your water intake, just in case. But you would have noticed that quite soon after your skin was still itchy and irritated. Let’s be honest, the urge to constantly rub and claw at your skin is not exactly ideal, and can really affect your quality of life.
The truth is the remedy for dry skin isn’t as simple as slapping on some lotion. While applying body butters and creams may provide temporary relief, the key to effectively treating dry skin lies in pinpointing exactly what is causing your dehydrated skin in the first place. Here are a few common culprits and some that may come as a surprise…
6 common causes (and a few surprising ones) of dry skin:
1. Dry air
And we’re talking about the kind you find indoors and is usually caused by overuse of a heater and air-conditioning. Low humidity literally pulls moisture from the upper layers of your skin. This often leads to irritation and the dreaded itch.
The solution: Keep a moisturiser in your desk drawer or handbag for exposed areas of the body like your hands. Or even better, invest in a humidifier so that the moisture content of the air is at a more comfortable level for your skin.
2. Hard water
Not all water is equal! This may come as a surprise, but your tap water may also be contributing to your dry skin. When water has a high concentration of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium, it’s referred to as ‘hard water’. While it is perfectly safe to drink, washing with hard water can be harmful to your skin.
When bathing with hard water, the soap and dissolved minerals form a film on the surface of the skin. This not only contributes to the feeling of never really being clean, but also interferes with your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture from the outside.
The solution: Go the DIY route and install special water filters that will soften your bath and shower water.
3. Long, hot baths
While we’re on the subject of water, let’s talk about temperature. You may need it after a particularly stressful day at work or to soothe tense muscles, but spending an hour submerged in hot water won’t do your skin any favours.
In fact, it’s just going to strip your skin of oils which form a natural barrier against moisture loss.
The solution: Keep your bathtime short, and be sure to set the water to a lukewarm temperature.
Your skin should have a slightly acidic pH naturally. Known as the ‘acid mantle’ it is, simply put, a thin coating made up of lipids and sweat which forms a protective barrier over the skin. It keeps out the nasties, like dirt, pollution and bacteria, and prevents moisture from escaping.
Bar soaps are essentially alkaline in nature. Prolonged cleansing with soap disrupts the skin’s pH over time, compromising the skin’s ability to hold on to moisture, which is why it may feel tight after cleansing.
The solution: Although it’s been a cleansing staple for generations, it’s time to ditch traditional bar soaps for gentle soap-free cleansers which remove impurities without altering your skin’s pH balance. We love Skin Creamery Oil-Milk Cleanser for your face, which will also remove all your make-up in one go. For the body, you can’t go wrong with fragrance-free Avene Xera Calm Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil.
5. Getting older
We all know that getting older naturally brings with it changes in the skin. Sun damage, lack of a proper skincare regimen as well as genetics all play a role. As we age, our skin also loses its ability to hold on to water. Along with feeling tight and dry, lines and wrinkles often become more visible as a result. This lack of moisture causes the skin to lose its elasticity, too.
The Solution: You’ll want to feed your skin all the good stuff it needs to attract and hold on to moisture. Look for products containing hyaluronic acid which works by drawing moisture to the surface of the skin from the outside, but also from within the deeper layers of the skin itself. We love the Coverderm Maxydrat serum, which combats dehydrated skin on three fronts; the skin’s surface, the dermis below and at the cellular level to leave skin feeling hydrated, smooth and supple.
6. A medical condition
Your health could also be compromising the condition of your skin. Externally, conditions like psoriasis and eczema could cause you to frantically scratch your skin leading to even more irritation and discomfort. Diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism can also contribute to dry skin without you even knowing about it.
The Solution: Visit your GP for a proper diagnosis as a normal moisturizer might not be enough. Your doctor will be able to prescribe a suitable topical ointment to treat your itchy, inflamed skin while also treating the condition itself.