Itchiness. Discomfort. Even flakiness and redness. Dry skin can be a real annoyance. But once you know what causes dry skin, it’s much easier to help prevent it. Here are 5 common reasons—and remedies—for dry skin.
Letting (too much) sunshine in
Time outdoors can really brighten your day. And sunscreen is, of course, a necessity. But how exactly does the sun hurt your skin? Its rays penetrate deeply into skin’s dermis layer, robbing skin of moisture and oils. To help guard against this, use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, don’t stay out too long when the sun’s rays are strongest (11am-3pm) and reapply sunscreen regularly.
That crisp winter air
The coldest season is also the driest season. And that means you’ve got to take extra steps to help prevent dry skin. So what causes very dry skin in winter? The low humidity means moisture is constantly being pulled away from your skin’s surface. Without proper care, winter dry skin can crack and flake, leaving you more exposed to outside irritants and more likely to have an inflammatory response. To help prevent winter dryness, moisturise more often, use a humidifier in your home and take shorter showers. Speaking of which…
Soaking up a long, relaxing shower
It’s a soothing escape, but staying in the hot water for too long is one of the most common causes of very dry skin. Too much hot water removes the natural moisturising ability of skin’s surface cells. Soaps and harsh cleansers remove protective lipids and damage skin proteins, weakening the skin’s surface and exposing deeper and deeper layers to additional moisture loss. Your skin isn’t just losing water. It’s losing the ability to retain water. So aim for a shower that’s warm (not hot), limit the length of the shower to 5-10 minutes and seek out moisturising soaps and shampoos.
Keeping your cool (and your heat)
Whether it’s freezing or boiling outside, getting a comfortable indoor temperature is as easy as turning on the air conditioner. But convenience comes with a cost for your skin. Both air conditioners and indoor heating can cause dry skin. They remove moisture from the air, which lowers skin’s resistance and makes surface cells dry out. The temperature might be comfortable, but dry, itchy skin will often follow. To help prevent this, try occasionally using your fan instead of the A/C. Restore moisture with a humidifier. And in general, aim for a temperature that’s comfortable, but not too low or too high.
Sky-high moisture loss
You are now arriving at your destination: dry skin. Flying on airplanes can lead to skin dryness because the pressurised air in the cabin contains virtually no humidity. While you’re soaring 10,000 metres in the air, moisture is being stripped from your skin’s protective outer layer (also called the stratum corneum). This leads to itchiness and discomfort – the last thing you need after sharing an armrest. To avoid dry skin caused by flying, refrain from drinking alcohol on the flight. It will only dry you out more. Instead, drink lots of water before, during and after your voyage.