Is Your Dry Skin Really a Medical Condition That Needs Attention?

Dry skin can be itchy and unsightly. In most cases, dry skin is its own condition, brought on by exposure to various environmental factors. However, there are times when dry skin is a symptom, brought on by an underlying medical condition that itself needs to be treated before your skin can heal.

While many causes of dry skin are easy to self-diagnose, it’s time to visit Riviera Allergy Medical Center when your skin gets dry for no obvious reason.

Causes of dry skin

Perhaps the most common cause of dry skin comes from exposure to weather conditions outdoors. Winter weather creates a collection of challenges, each of which robs your skin of moisture. As cold winter air is heated inside your home, the moisture content of the air can plummet and in turn start robbing your body of moisture through skin evaporation.

This is also a factor for those living in low-humidity desert climates, no matter what time of the year.

While it may seem counterintuitive, long showers and baths can also strip away moisture, rather than adding it back. The same is true for those who swim frequently in heavily chlorinated pools. Chlorine is the active agent in household bleach, so frequent contact can strip away protective body oils.

Detergents, soaps, and shampoos are also made to remove excess skin oils, but overuse or strong formulations can cause dry skin, too.

In these cases, avoiding the environmental conditions that cause dry skin may be all you need to reverse the effects on your skin. Medical conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or contact dermatitis, present dry skin as a symptom.

The effects of psoriasis

When a strong case of psoriasis is active, you probably won’t mistake it for dry skin, but mild or developing cases might seem like a simple skin issue.

An immune system disorder, psoriasis causes a fast turnover of skin cells. New cells grow at a pace that outstrips shedding of older cells. In severe cases, thick skin patches that are red or silver in appearance may develop.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis

Primarily a childhood condition, eczema results in your skin’s outer layer functioning improperly. Eczema can be quite itchy, more so than psoriasis or dry skin caused by exposure, but since the skin layer defect permits moisture loss, dry skin occurs even without exposure to elements.

Eczema is also used to describe chronic dry skin in older patients, even if it’s not due to genetic effects in the skin.

Contact dermatitis

Certain substances can cause allergic reactions in the skin, including industrial chemicals and other irritants, but you may also develop sensitivities to milder substances, such as fragrances, dyes, or house plants to name a few. This could also develop over time, so you become sensitive to a substance that hasn’t bothered you in years of previous use. Contact dermatitis usually creates an itchy, red rash as well as dry skin conditions.

If you suspect that your dry skin may be due to something other than exposure to the elements, contact Dr. Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center for a complete evaluation.

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