One of the many conditions that our skin can suffer from is dry skin.
Our skin is the most visible organ and the one which we can most quickly observe if there are symptoms of a disease related to the skin or another part of our body.
The skin covers the entire human body, forming the body's surface. The outermost part is called the stratum corneum (dead epithelial cells full of keratin) and an emulsion of water, fatty substances and cell remnants, which fully cover it, known as the hydrolipidic film. This film is the chemical barrier which overlaps the physical barrier of the stratum corneum and makes the skin impermeable.
The hydrolipidic film
The hydrolipidic film can be considered the skin's natural cosmetic with its emollient and moisturising properties. Both external factors (continuous contact with detergents, solvents or irritating substances, the sun, etc.) and internal factors (genetics, ageing, diseases, etc.) involve deterioration leading to dry skin or xerosis cutis.
Dry skin or xerosis
Dry skin has major implications in dermatology. The skin is usually thin and fragile, which then becomes irritated and swells easily (dermatitis, ezcema, etc.). It has a taut, dull and cracked appearance, with a superficial degree of flaking and the presence of wrinkles.
Dry skin: causes
The causes of dry skin are varied and are due to a multitude of factors.
The prevalence of dry skin or xerosis increases with age, but it can also be a sign of different diseases during childhood and youth. It is conditioned by genetic and environmental factors.
Dry skin is particularly common in children under 10 years and in adults over 60 years of age.
It mainly stems from a lack of natural moisturising factors (NMF) such as the urea, fatty acids, sodium or amino acids that are commonly found in the hydrolipidic film. This deficit of natural moisturising factors may be related to adverse environmental conditions (extreme cold), excess of hard water, the use of soaps and detergents that are aggressive on the skin, certain pharmacological treatments, among many other causes.
How to hydrate dry skin
To obtain a correct water balance in the skin, applying moisturising creams and emollients that restore the skin's hydrolipidic film is necessary. It is essential to apply these emollients consistently and daily and, if possible, twice a day rather than once. In the same way, it is important to stop the itching-scratching cycle with itches and so avoid the continuous skin injuries caused by the scratching.
Dry skin care tips
Some tips to keep in mind for dry skin care:
- The use of emollient moisturisers on a daily basis is a must.
- Avoid very frequent showering. Shower with warm (not very hot) water and non-irritating soaps, such as mild cleansers.
- Drinking water, having a varied diet and doing exercise all contribute to having more hydrated skin.
- It is also important to avoid factors that age the skin, such as sun exposure, tobacco and alcohol.