What Causes Dry Skin?

So you want to know what causes dry skin? Read on...

The skin acts as a barrier to prevent loss of water from the dermis (the second layer of the skin). It also keeps out harmful substances. When this barrier isn't working properly, the skin can dry out.

Healthy skin has a soft, smooth and well-hydrated surface. The skin loses water by evaporation and it is replaced from the dermis and the atmosphere. When more water is lost than is replaced, the skin becomes dry.

You know when your skin is dry from the way it looks and feels, right? It has a rough, uneven surface, cracks, feels tight and all that. So, what causes dry skin?

Genetics is a common factor. Ah, yes, you can blame it on the genes. But only sometimes. The water content of skin partly depends on genetics so some people inherit a tendency to develop dry skin.

The environment is another cause of dry skin. The skin loses more water and becomes dry when it is subjected to cold, dry air, air conditioning or central heating. You've probably experienced this at least once.

Then there's dryness that's triggered by cleansing the skin. They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but can one be too clean? Well, yes...or maybe. Soaps and cleansers strip oil from the skin, causing dryness, so you don't want to overdo the cleaning thing.

And let's not forget aging. As we get older, the skin produces less oil, especially in women. I know that doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it is. There's a lot about life that just isn't fair, but I won't go there.

As well as getting drier, the skin becomes less elastic with age.

Some skin conditions (like eczema and psoriasis) can cause dry skin. And sometimes there are underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, nutritional deficiencies and AIDS.

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