Dry skin is also known as xerosis. When dry skin becomes severe, it is called asteatotic dermatitis or “eczema craquele,” because it resembles cracked porcelain.
Dry skin occurs when the outer layer of your skin, the stratum corneum, lacks moisture. It can affect anyone, at any age, but it is more common in older patients, because the skin loses its ability to retain moisture.
- Arid climate (Colorado qualifies!)
- Excessive bathing/showering
- People with dry skin are more susceptible to skin infections because the skin barrier is not as strong, and bacteria have an easier time getting in.
- People with dry skin are more likely to experience dermatitis and various rashes for the same reason.
The best treatment for dry skin is moisturizers and prevention. We recommend moisturizing twice daily with a thick cream or emollient, such as Cetaphil or CeraVe. This will help repair the skin barrier, reduce itching, and encourage healing.
- If dry skin is severe or not responding to over-the-counter moisturizers, Dr. Gallagher or Dr. Leddon may prescribe a topical steroid.
- Topical steroids reduce inflammation and irritation, allowing skin to heal while decreasing itchiness.
- Examples include clobetasol, fluocinolone and triamcinolone.
We recommend a deliberate and consistent course of self care that includes:
- Take cooler, shorter showers. There’s nothing like a hot shower on a cold day, but prolonged hot water robs your skin of essential oils and dilates blood vessels, allowing less moisture in. Aim for 5-10 minutes at a lukewarm temp.
- Wear protective clothing. Defend your skin from the sun, cold temps and airborne irritants by covering up. Hats and gloves are particularly important for protecting your scalp and hands.
- Ease off your thermostat. Home heat can have a dehydrating effect on your skin, so don’t overdo it.
- Use a humidifier. If your home air feels too dry, a humidifier can help add moisture.
- Choose a light moisturizer. Many people reach for heavy, creamy facial moisturizers to combat winter dryness, but greasy products can cause break outs. A light moisturizer is the best choice for year-round skin care.
- Dodge fragrances and additives. They will irritate your skin and may cause redness. Opt for a non-soap cleanser. Skin cleansers labeled as “non-soap” contain milder ingredients and less fragrance. When it comes to skin care, less is almost always better.
- Get slippery while wet. Use an all-over body moisturizer while you’re still damp after bathing to help lock in some extra water.
- Keep a moisturizer on hand. Consistent hand-washing is important for avoiding colds and flu, but it’s hard on the skin. Tuck a small bottle of lotion in your desk drawer or handbag to keep your hands moisturized after every wash.
Make these changes a habit and your skin should start to feel better quickly. If they bring no relief, consider coming to see us. Very dry skin can require a prescription topical steroid. It could also be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. Call us at (303) 604-1444.
When To Call Us
If your dry skin is not relieved with our home care suggestions, please come and see us. In some cases, very dry skin may require a prescription topical steroid. Additionally, persistent dry skin may signal a more serious underlying condition.
If your skin is red, inflamed or if you have a rash, you should come in for an appointment. We can examine the area, diagnose the issue and offer treatment options. Patients with issues such as diabetes, eczema or psoriasis may experience dry skin to a significant degree, and we have options and medications designed to help.