Get some relief from dry skin problems
Dry skin is a common condition and cooler weather and low humidity days can make this condition worse.
It’s a condition where the skin feels dry to touch, and can be rough, hard and scaly. It is often itchy and repeated scratching can cause the skin to thicken. The skin is often not very flexible which can then lead to cracks forming. In more severe cases the skin can become red and inflamed.
Dry skin tends to be found on the hands, arms, lower legs and shins. People of both sexes and any age can have dry skin, affecting children in early childhood as well as being seen in almost everyone who is older than 60 years of age.
As people age there are changes to the skin structure which in turn leads to water loss from the skin and hence skin dryness. Apart from the weather, dry skin may also be caused by genetic factors and there is often a family history of dry skin.
The use of very hot showers and some soaps, cleaners and shampoos can also be the cause of dry skin. Applying moisturisers frequently to the dry skin can help to rehydrate the skin and give relief.
Pharmacists are able to help you on the best treatment options for you. They can also advise on appropriate mild soaps and shampoos that will be beneficial, to dry skin.
Dry skin is also common in people who have the skin condition eczema, which is also known as dermatitis. There are many types of eczema, but they all cause skin inflammation, redness and itchiness.
The most common type of eczema is known as atopic eczema. The cause of atopic eczema is not known, though it is known that there is a genetic link and often those people with eczema will have a family member who has eczema, hayfever or asthma as well.
Atopic eczema may have relapses, which are also known as flares. These may be seen as an itchy red rash that often appears in skin creases, such as behind the knees or at the elbows. These can vary from being mild and only seen in one or two places on the body, to being very severe and painful, covering many areas of the body and lasting for several weeks.
There may be things that trigger the eczema and sets it off or makes it worse. These include things such as heat, dust mites, shampoos, soaps, perfumes and hair dye or preservatives. Also allergies to particular food such as eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat or shellfish can be the trigger for eczema and these should be avoided.
The first course of action in managing eczema is the regular use of moisturisers to reduce water loss from the skin. Moisturisers stop the skin drying out, preventing it from becoming weak, inflamed and itchy. Apply moisturisers generously and at least twice daily.
Bathe in warm water as opposed to hot water and apply moisturiser immediately after washing and dab the skin dry rather than rubbing the skin. For eczema that needs more treatment there are creams that can be used to reduce inflammation and itchiness that are available with a prescription from your GP.