Dry skin: what is it?

Written by: Hector Sentilhes

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Time to read 4 min

Dry skin is often characterized by rough skin or redness. It can lead to itching. Having dry skin is not necessarily serious, it can be linked to symptoms of an illness or pathology. We will show you the characteristics of dry skin and what are the solutions to get rid of it.

WHAT IS DRY SKIN?

Dry skin is caused by a lack of lipids in the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis. The skin barrier, which is the most superficial layer of the epidermis, is covered with a hydrolipidic film. The latter acts as a barrier which protects internal tissues and organs from external attacks (weather, UV, etc.). It also allows the skin to be supple and hydrated. When this is damaged, it causes dysfunction and accelerates the drying of the skin.

SIGNS OF DRY SKIN

Dry skin, whether temporary, seasonal, or requiring long-term treatment, can manifest a variety of signs and symptoms influenced by age, health, skin color, environment, and exposure to the sun. These manifestations include a feeling of tightness in the skin, a rough texture perceptible to the touch and the eye, as well as itching. Mild to severe peeling may occur, creating an ashy appearance that can particularly affect brown and black skin. Cracks in the skin, reminiscent of a "dry river bed", as well as fine lines or cracks may also appear. White skin may have a reddish tint, while brown and black skin may take on a grayish tint. In more severe cases, deep cracks can occur, sometimes leading to bleeding.

WHAT CAUSES DRY SKIN?

Dry skin results from insufficient production of sebum by the sebaceous glands, thus weakening the hydrolipidic film, crucial for keeping the skin hydrated and protected. This sebum deficiency is often hereditary, linked to insufficient lipids and deficient sebaceous production, influenced by hormonal factors such as menopause in women.

At the same time, dry skin presents a deficiency in natural hydration factors (NMF). In addition, the reduced synthesis of ceramides, lipids acting as intercellular cement, impacts the barrier function of the epidermis.

Dry skin can also be caused by a variety of internal and external factors, including conditions like psoriasis or eczema. In addition, aging contributes to this problem, because the stratum corneum of the epidermis weakens over time, leading to less production of the oils necessary for water retention in the skin.


On an external level, dry skin can result from loss of water from the outer layer of the skin. Conditions such as excessive indoor heating, water with too much lime, cold temperatures or a dry climate can make this situation worse. Additionally, habits such as prolonged hot showers or using harsh products, like certain soaps, can also contribute to skin dehydration. You should also avoid certain cosmetic products that reduce dry skin. The use of moisturizing products such as hydrating shower gels is recommended.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRY SKIN AND DEHYDRATED SKIN

  • DRY SKIN

Dry skin has a rough texture due to a lack of lipids. Dry skin, as a distinct skin type, is characterized by a deficit of lipids, causing constant water loss. This imbalance may be genetic or linked to aging, where reduced activity of the sebaceous glands decreases sebum production. As a result, the skin dries out.

  • DEHYDRATED SKIN

Dehydrated skin does not feel rough, but rather results from a lack of water. The phenomenon of dehydrated skin affects all skin types and can occur at any time in life. Dehydrated skin is reversible. When dehydrated, the skin can be rough with flakes. Hydration of the skin is therefore essential.

PARTS OF THE BODY MOST LIKELY TO BE DRY

Certain areas of the body are more prone to dry skin, mainly due to factors such as reduced presence of sebaceous glands, increased exposure to external elements, or frequent friction. Here are some areas of the body commonly affected by dry skin:

  • Hands: Hands, regularly exposed to irritating agents such as hot water, household chemicals and weather conditions, can be prone to dry skin, accentuated by frequent washing.

  • Feet: Due to constant friction from shoes, exposure to rough surfaces, and low presence of oil glands, the skin on the feet can easily become dry.

  • Legs: The legs, especially the shins, are susceptible to dry skin, influenced by factors such as frequent shaving, exposure to cold and contact with clothing.

  • Elbows and knees: due to the low density of sebaceous glands, these areas are often affected by dry skin, accentuated by constant movement and the accumulation of dead cells.

  • Face: facial skin, exposed to external elements such as wind, cold and sun, is prone to skin dryness, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

  • Lips: with their thin layer of skin and absence of sweat glands, lips are particularly vulnerable to dryness. Extreme weather conditions and licking your lips can make this problem worse.

SOLUTIONS AGAINST DRY SKIN

PREVENT WORSENING DRY SKIN

  • Use lukewarm water rather than hot water.

  • Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes.

  • Use a gentle, nourishing and hydrating cleanser like Neo by Nature shower gel.

  • Apply enough cleaner to remove dirt and oil, without creating a thick foam.

  • Gently dab your skin with a towel after cleansing.

  • Apply moisturizer immediately after drying your skin.

Tip: To relieve dry hands, always carry a non-greasy hand cream with you and apply it after each hand wash.

PROTECT THE SKIN

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands, especially in cold weather, during wet tasks, or if they come into contact with chemicals or grease.

  • Opt for cotton or silk clothing under rough materials like wool.

  • Use a humidifier to add humidity to indoor air.

CONCLUSION

Dry skin is therefore due to the lack of lipids in the epidermis. This is a skin type that does not affect everyone, unlike dehydrated skin. By following these recommendations, it is possible to significantly improve skin comfort and maintain optimal hydration. If symptoms persist, it is always recommended to consult a dermatologist for personalized advice.

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