What is dry skin?
Dry skin, also called xerosis, is a very common skin condition that occurs at all ages. Usually, it doesn’t represent a serious problem but sometimes it can be difficult to treat. Moreover, it might be correlated to other skin diseases or associated with pathological conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, malnutrition.
What does it look like?
Involved skin appears dehydrated, peeled, irritated, and inflamed. It feels rough, scaly, sometimes painful, and itchy. Severe conditions may be characterized by intense redness and itchiness; skin shows the tendency to crack, causing deep fissures that may bleed and they are signs of extremely dry skin.
Dry skin at the microscope
Skin represents our barrier against the environment and it consists of three layers: hypodermis, the deepest layer, constituted mainly by adipose tissue, with vessels, nerves; the dermis, constituted by connective tissue, with collagen and elastin fibers, blood vessels, oil glands, hair follicles, sweat glands; epidermis, the outer layer, constituted by keratinocytes which divide and mature moving from the basal layer to the stratum corneum (the outermost compartment of the epidermis). Keratinocytes, localized in the stratum corneum, feature an insoluble structure composed of several proteins called a cornified envelope, cytoplasm filled by keratin filaments, and nuclear dissolution. These cells are embedded into lipid layers constituted by cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides. Stratum corneum provides skin hydration1 and, in particular, lipids play a significant role against evaporation holding water. Sweat and oil glands products, skin natural moisturizing factors (consisting of a mixture of highly hygroscopic molecules like amino acids, sugars, lactic acid, urea) participate in moisture content maintenance, acting as endogenous humectants.
Skin owes its soft, pliable texture to its water content. Dry air (low humidity), probably the most common cause of dry skin, causes an evident reduction of water content. Furthermore, dry skin results when lipids are depleted and there is not enough water in the stratum corneum for it to function properly. Atopic dermatitis, a common dry skin condition in childhood, shows reduced lipids levels in the stratum corneum and, consequently, an important loss of water.2
Severe dry skin is a feature of the inherited group of disorders called ichthyosis: the most common form of ichthyosis is defined ichthyosis Vulgaris, characterized by fine scaling that is most prominent over the legs and usually presents within the first few months of life.3
Furthermore, xerosis may represent a symptom in other skin diseases such as asteatotic eczema, lichen, and psoriasis.
What causes dry skin?
Simple causes of lipids depletion include harsh soap, itchy clothing, long and hot showers or baths. An important environmental factor is represented by exposure to hot or cold weather with low humidity levels. Xerosis often worsens in the winter, when several factors contribute to skin dryness: low temperature and low humidity associated with very hot and drying heating, cause a decreased amounts of water in the stratum corneum. During summer, constant exposure to air conditioning may produce similar effects.
Several drugs, like diuretics or topical and systemic retinoids, may temporarily cause dry skin and, generally, it resolves to interrupt the treatment.
In the elderly, metabolic changes, the tendency to reduce liquid intake, associated with the physiological skin aging process (keratinocytes move slowly from the basal layer of the epidermis to the stratum corneum and oil glands are less active), determine xerosis, thinning, and lost of elasticity. Hormone imbalances that occur in menopause, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism can also experience severe skin dryness.
Why Do I need to contact a dermatologist?
Chronic or severe dry skin problems require a dermatologist’s advice. It’s important to have a diagnosis to exclude concomitant skin diseases as mentioned above. A dermatologist may evaluate and identify causes and get the necessary treatment: commonly, for people with dry skin, the best treatment is a moisturized cream or emollients, but if necessary, he may prescribe a steroid cream or ointment in the association. For clinical pictures characterized by intense itchy, which interferes with daily activities and sleep, antihistamine pills may be prescribed.
Treatment and prevention
These are easy suggestions that are important to keep in mind:
Choose short showers over baths. Long baths or showers, especially in hot water, increase the loss of natural oils from the skin and worsen skin dryness. The shower should be in warm rather than hot water. Apply a moisturizer after shower or hands washing.
Apply moisturizing creams, emollients, or ointments moisturizers several times a day: they are fundamental in dry skin treatment because they reconstitute cutaneous hydro-lipidic film holding water in the skin. Cream moisturizers, when applied they disappear when rubbed into the skin because they are more popular than other treatments. They protect damaged and sensitive skin and make skin softer and smoother. They preserve natural skin lipids and limit dehydration trapping and sealing water in the stratum corneum.
- Choose a non-alcohol-based moisturizer.
- Use a mild non-soap skin cleanser. Harsh soaps remove the oils from the surface of the skin and dry it out.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps.
- Place a humidifier in your home or add it to the central heating system to maintain the air moisturized during the winter and in dry weather.
- Avoid rubbing or scratching the skin.
- Wear gloves, hats, and scarves in the winter.
- Avoid dehydration caused by drinking alcohol and by neglecting to replace fluids lost through sweating.
Avoid itchy clothing because it might get more itchy. Dry skin is especially sensitive to contact irritants and it may worsen itching and redness.
Reviewed by Dr. Hun Kim Thao
Grace Skincare Clinic
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0-09-2019 "I would love to thank Dr. Hun Kim Thao and her amazing staffs for helping me through a skin improving journey over an almost year while I was staying in HCM. I received acne facial and peel every other week and the service was superb! Each procedure was well explained and Dr.Thao was very attentive. I loved her holistic way of approach to improve patient's skin. Not only she prescribed very effective acne gel but also shared great tips such as reducing the amount of simple carb intake, cutting down sugar, and most importantly highlighting the importance of getting enough sleep. She even recommended a well known doctor in town who could help me with my sleeping problem. In addition, the price was very reasonable and I was very happy with all the service I got from Grace Skin Clinic. Oh Dr. Thao even asked her staff to make me a cup of tea one day as she she thought I looked overly exhausted. I was very moved. How warm hearted she is! I will definitely recommend this place to anyone who wants to check up their skin and improve their skin. Amazing place!"
This place is amazing; they help me improve my terrible skin condition which had affected my identity, and my confidence for many years. I have been visiting Grace Clinic during summer time for the past two years, and every time I am here, they create a different program in order to fit my skin condition and my limited time. Furthermore, people from Grace Clinic always greet me with warm hearts. They once invited me to have boba tea with them which made me no longer feel like a customer but a friend which it has created a friendship overtime. I cannot stress how highly I would recommend this place. Again, they are amazing and very professional. There is one thing, you can do walk-in just fine but it would be better if you schedule the appointment so they can prepare and create the best service for you.
I absolutely love the ladies of Grace Skincare. I was staying in Saigon for 6 months and came here with acne and a congested skin from my travels. So happy I found them! Their prices are reasonable compared to other “expat” clinic that I went to. I bought the 10 facial package for a really good price and am really happy with the result of my skin after following all of their consultations. Acne has cleared up and now we’re focusing on my other skin concerns such as dark spots and hyperpigmentation. I highly recommend this clinic. They truly want you to walk out with skin you feel confident in. I’m going to miss this place and the ladies I got to connect with during my time here. Amazing results · Expert facials · Great deals · Professional products ·Licensed skin care professional · Experienced skin care professionals
Hey guys it’s been 3 weeks since we came for our treatment. I can honestly say it’s the best I have had done. Andrew and I look fresh without being overdone. We both had people say how refreshed we look after our holiday. Honestly they wouldn’t be saying that if they knew how much beer and yummy Vietnamese food we consumed when we were there. I can honestly say Andrew and I will be back. And I am telling all my friends how fantastic you guys are and how professional the consultation was. I have yet to find someone in Australia who is so thorough. Thank you, Kylie
I had a acne treatment here last month and now it's improved a lot. I must say that this place is very professional, modern equipment, especially the thoughtful doctor! I'm impressed!
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I was so embarrassed with the scars and pigmentation marks on my face. These are from old sports injuries and harsh products on my legs from childhood accidents. I am fed up with using so much concealer makeup on my face and am never able to wear a skirt with confidence. I heard about the Grace Skincare Clinic pigmentation lightening treatment from a friend. I took 6 treatments & used skincare product as Dr. Thao instructed and now my skin is beautiful and permanently clear. It was worth every penny.
as Tet is coming, I highly recommend this place for a weekend retreat, skin detoxing or even an urgent package to soothe and smooth your skin. I got back my healthy skin after just 02 week following the instruction of Dr Thao Hun and it cost me 200,000 for medical consultation fee only. Wonderful!