How to Prevent Dry Skin and Its Complications
Dry skin is one of the most prevalent skin conditions worldwide. If left untreated, it could lead to ichthyosis vulgaris, eczema and even psoriasis. These conditions of skin cornification can impact an individual’s life, productivity and social interaction. Although there are no cures for these conditions, there are ways one can manage them effectively. Read on to know more about dry skin conditions, their complications and how to prevent dry skin in great detail.
What is Ichthyosis Vulgaris?
Ichthyosis vulgaris is an inherited skin disorder that occurs when the skin can’t get rid of dead cells. As a result, these cells accumulate in the form of dry, thick scales on the skin's surface. It is for this reason the condition is also called ‘fish scale disease’.
Ichthyosis vulgaris is a mild form of ichthyosis that is known to have over 20 varieties. According to Cleveland Clinic, 95% of people suffering from some form of ichthyosis are reported to have ichthyosis vulgaris.
Ichthyosis vulgaris is common during childhood, but adults can also experience this skin condition.
What is Eczema?
Eczema, a.k.a. ‘atopic dermatitis,’ is an inflammatory skin condition characterised by inflamed, itchy, patchy, cracked and rough skin. Eczema tends to appear in front of the neck, behind the knees or inside the elbows.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterised by raised and scaly patches, usually on the face, scalp and buttocks. This skin disorder is more inflammatory than eczema.
Causes of Dry Skin Conditions
Psoriasis occurs when there is a malfunction of the immune system, due to which skin cells start multiplying at a faster rate. Certain infections, weather, skin injury, stress and drugs can also trigger the condition.
Eczema occurs due to the combination of the immune system response, environmental factors and genetics. Like psoriasis, the condition can also result from allergens or irritants that impact the immune system and eventually cause flare-ups.
Ichthyosis vulgaris is often caused by one’s genes. In some cases, a person may develop the condition due to certain medications or medical illnesses. A child who has inherited the gene from its parents has a 50% chance of experiencing the skin condition.
In adults, the condition is called acquired ichthyosis vulgaris. This form of ichthyosis vulgaris can result from HIV, certain cancers, kidney disease and leprosy. On a few occasions, it can develop from certain medications.
Symptoms of ichthyosis vulgaris include:
- Dry, itchy, thick or rough skin
- Brown, white, or grey scales on the skin
- Rough bumps on buttocks, arms or thighs
- Cracks on the soles of the feet or palms
Psoriasis and eczema have similar symptoms, such as:
- itchy skin
- discoloured skin
- a burning sensation
Treatment for Dry Skin Conditions
If you are wondering how to get rid of psoriasis or how to treat eczema or ichthyosis vulgaris, certain treatments can help ease the symptoms. Remember there is no cure for these skin disorders, but you may find relief from the following solutions:
1. Home Treatments
During showers, exfoliating the skin with a gentle exfoliator like a pumice stone can help remove the dead skin cells or scales. Regularly applying moisturisers will hydrate your skin and soothe inflammation. If you have any dry skin conditions, massaging with coconut oil or aloe vera gel can prove to be beneficial. Use a thick emollient such as petroleum jelly or cocoa butter if you have deep cracks. Adding sea salt to your bathtub may also provide relief from the itching and burning.
2. Use a Humidifier
Installing a humidifier in your bedroom or home will add moisture to the indoor air and prevent your skin from drying out further.
3. Wear Soft and Comfortable Fabrics
If you have scales or dry skin flare-ups, wear soft and comfortable fabrics. Opt for breathable fabrics like silk, cashmere or cotton. If you need to layer, avoid harsh fabrics like wool.
4. Prescription Treatments
A dermatologist or doctor may prescribe specially-formulated creams or ointments to get rid of dead skin cells and help moisturise the skin. These OTC or prescription medications can contain:
- Retinoids – These derivatives of vitamin A help slow the production of skin cells.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids – AHAs such as lactic acid or glycolic acid reduce the epidermal thickness.
- Urea – OTC products with urea help lock moisture in the skin.
- Salicylic Acid – This beta-hydroxy acid exfoliates the skin gently and removes dead skin cells.
Living with Dry Skin
Living with dry skin conditions can be frustrating and difficult. If the condition impacts you and your life, it’s better to seek a mental health professional. Certain therapies and general counselling can help you overcome the emotional difficulties you encounter while struggling with such conditions. The key to living with dry skin conditions is managing them every day. To ensure healthy skin, we recommend seeing a dermatologist.
The Bottom Line
Untreated, dry skin conditions can engender severe complications like ichthyosis vulgaris, psoriasis or eczema. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to prevent dry skin and follow those measures in your everyday life. To learn more about dry skin and ichthyosis vulgaris, visit Skin and Hair Academy.