Of all the various skin conditions we struggle with, one of the most common is dry, flaky skin. There are different causes for the condition, and finding the exact cause of yours is a step in the right direction toward improving, and sometimes even eliminating, this bothersome problem. The first goal for anyone experiencing this issue is narrowing down the actual culprit, and taking active measures to resolve it in a safe, healthy way.
What Is flaky skin
Normal, healthy skin contains a high level of water content. This is preserved by the presence of oils (sebum) which prevent excess evaporation and dehydration of skin cells. When our skin loses its protective, natural skin oil due to internal or external factors, the skin cells begin to dry out and become damaged. When this occurs, it greatly increases the water loss, exacerbating the dry skin problems. As more sebum and water are lost, the surface cells of the skin begin to die, and they peel off in thin, silvery flakes.
What Causes the Condition
There is a wide range of causes for the ailment of dealing with flaky skin. Weather and environmental conditions are a major contributor. Cold weather is a frequent cause, as our skin is subjected to the combination of cold air outside and forced-air, low humidity heat inside. Winter itch is well known, and many of us suffer throughout the winter months.
Parched skin can also result from extended exposure to hot, dry heat. Spending extended time in hot tubs, saunas, sunburn, and windburn will reduce a number of lubricating oils in our skin, leaving our skin irritated and peeling.
Another problematic source that can result in dealing with flaky skin is the medications we take. Certain over the counter and prescription drugs have side effects that cause dry skin. Skin care products and cosmetics are often offenders, as many contain harsh chemicals and additives that leech beneficial oils and moisture from our skin.
Certain diseases and allergies have the common symptom of rough, irritated skin. Contact dermatitis is an allergic condition where the skin reacts to exposure to particular detergents, fragrances, or materials. Eczema and psoriasis are skin diseases marked by red, scaly, tender skin patches that result from the body’s overproduction of epidermal skin cells.
Treatments for Flaky Skin
Depending on the actual cause of the skin problem, a cure for flaky skin can be managed at home or may require intervention by a medical physician. Some changes we can make and remedies we can try at home include:
1) Warm, Not Hot Baths – Hot water removes beneficial skin oil, so keep bath water warm and avoid staying in the bath for an extended period.
2) Gentle Cleansers – Avoid harsh, abrasive soaps and body products which dry out the skin. Minimize the use of toners and astringents due to their alcohol content.
3) Moisturize Wisely – Simple mineral oil or petroleum jelly is effective and nourishing without damaging chemicals to worsen the issue.
problems, especially during the winter months.
4) Humidify Your Home – Adding moisture to the air in our homes will benefit most dry skin problems, especially during the winter months.
Consulting a Physician for Treatment
For dry skin symptoms with no underlying medical condition, doctors may recommend dietary changes like increasing water intake, moisturizing with emollient-rich prescription creams and lotions, or merely provide advice on lifestyle changes we can make to help improve the situation. Natural therapists can recommend essential oils and botanical formulations that can provide benefit with safe, natural ingredients.
In severe cases of skin disease such as eczema and psoriasis, medical treatments may involve the application of topical creams or ointments to the affected areas. These generally contain corticosteroids that help reduce inflammation and irritation directly at the site. Phototherapy with UV light may be used, which slows down the production of skin cells.
Since our skin is such an important first-line of defense against bacteria and infection, it is vital to know when to consult a physician concerning your particular condition. Finding a cure for flaky skin may require a physical examination and medical testing to determine if there is an underlying illness causing the problem. Keeping our skin healthy is a vital measure for good health in general.