According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dry skin is an uncomfortable condition that can occur at any age and it may have a number of contributing factors. If you suffer from dry skin, understanding the causes may help you deal with the condition more effectively. The Mayo Clinic lists the following common causes of dry skin: sun exposure, climate, frequent bathing, exposure to chemicals and underlying skin conditions.
Dry skin often results when you spend a lot of time in the sun. Exposure to the sun causes your skin to lose moisture, as well as essential oils. Over time, this can cause the skin to become, dry, flaky, chapped and even wrinkled. To prevent dry skin from sun exposure, limit the amount of time you spend in the sun or tanning bed. When you must be in the sun, cover your skin with clothing and always wear sunscreen.
In cold climates or during winter humidity levels stay low which can lead to dry skin. In addition, most people use a furnace, space heater or other appliance to keep warm when the weather is cold, all of which can remove moisture from the air and contribute to dry skin.
Although many cases of weather-related dryness are caused by the cold, dry skin may also be a problem in warmer climates with low humidity such as the desert.
Although it may seem like bathing would add moisture to the skin this is not always the case. Long, frequent baths or showers in hot water can actually cause or contribute to dry skin conditions. To prevent this problem, limit the time you spend in the shower or bathtub, especially if you plan to use hot water. In fact, it is best to shower and bath in lukewarm water altogether.
Exposure to Chemicals
Certain chemicals can remove moisture from your skin or even cause irritation and inflammation. Frequent exposure to these chemicals results in dry skin or dry skin rash. Examples of chemicals that may dry the skin include harsh antibacterial soaps, cleaning solutions, acne washes and other beauty products. Avoid direct contact with these chemicals as much as possible. If you must handle any cleansing solutions, make sure to guard against skin irritation and dryness by wear protective gloves.
Other Skin Conditions
Although the majority of dry skin conditions are caused by environmental factors, some related skin problems may also contribute to dryness. According to the Mayo Clinic, examples of skin conditions that may contribute to dryness include eczema and atopic dermatitis. In such cases, treating these underlying problems may reduce dryness.
Regardless of the cause of your dry skin, using an appropriate moisturizer may help to restore moisture to the skin and eliminate discomfort. When choosing a moisturizer, avoid products that contain fragrances or dyes, as these components may irritate your skin further. If possible, use a moisturizer that is 100 percent organic. For best results, apply your moisturizer three to five minutes after showering or bathing.