Dry skin: causes, 6 dos & 4 don’ts for care

Rough, itchy and tight skin areas – all these symptoms occur when the skin’s moisture balance is disturbed. Quite a few people in this country suffer from the symptoms of dry skin. Below you will find out what causes it and what you can do to combat dry skin.

Older people in particular suffer from dry skin. Over time, the skin loses more and more moisture and thus elasticity. But even young people can already have problems with dry skin. Find out about possible causes and treatment options here.

Dry skin on face and body

Not only on the face, but anywhere on the body, dry patches can occur and cause irritation. Dry skin is uncomfortable and ugly to look at, especially on the face, and can therefore be very stressful for those affected.

The skin is the largest organ and serves as a protective barrier that protects the inside of the body from external elements such as UV rays, germs and injuries. If this barrier is disturbed, as in the case of dry skin, germs can penetrate more easily and cause inflammation of the skin. Dry facial skin is also more prone to wrinkles and can sometimes look sick and sallow.

In general, the skin consists of three skin layers: the epidermis , which includes the horny layer, for example, the dermis , which contains blood vessels and sweat glands, and the subcutaneous tissue, which consists largely of connective tissue and fat. With dry skin, the upper layers of the skin are not supplied with sufficient moisture.

Substances such as urea or amino acids , which bind water and thus retain moisture in the skin, ensure optimal moisture supply . In addition, ceramides reduce water loss in the skin by forming a natural protective layer and holding the cells together. From the age of 25 , however, the skin becomes increasingly saggy and drier.

Extremely dry skin is also called xerosis or xeroderma . It is both genetic and can be influenced by lifestyle. For example, malnutrition, heating air, air conditioning, low water intake and poor personal hygiene can lead to dry skin. Very dry skin is characterized by scaly areas, inflammation, cracks, itching, redness and a feeling of tension. In addition to the facial skin, the lower legs, shins, hands, feet and elbows are particularly frequently affected.

Causes of extremely dry skin

Dry skin can have various causes. On the one hand, it is genetically determined, on the other hand, lifestyle also has a strong effect on the complexion. Diseases and medication also have a strong effect on the skin. Several factors often interact, resulting in very dry skin. Possible causes are:

  • Weather : Both heat and cold can affect the skin and dry it out – in the heat on the one hand due to low humidity and high sun exposure and on the other hand due to increased sweat production. In winter, aggressive cold, which constricts the blood vessels and irritates the skin, and dry, heated air cause the skin to lose moisture.
  • Excessive sweating : When you sweat, your skin loses a lot of moisture and flushes important minerals out of the body.
  • Stress : Stress and inner turmoil can also take a toll on the skin. The result is dry patches of skin.
  • Mental Health : Your mental health also affects the condition of your skin. In particular, obsessive-compulsive disorders that are associated with excessive hygiene can put a strain on the skin.
  • Hormone imbalances : Illnesses such as an underactive thyroid and diabetes can also have a negative effect on your skin’s moisture balance.
  • Various diseases : Many other diseases are also associated with dry skin. These can include celiac disease and gastritis, among others.
  • Medications : Medications can also dry out the skin. These include diuretics, which have a draining effect.
  • Chemicals : Chemicals have an enormous effect on the skin, can damage it permanently and trigger allergies. Cleaning agents can also be particularly harsh.
  • Too much or too little water : Both too much and too little water can rob the skin of moisture. For example, competitive swimmers who spend a lot of time in chlorinated water are particularly affected. Not drinking enough water can also dry out the skin.
  • Too much or too little personal care : Dry skin needs adequate care. Since it does not get enough moisture on the inside, you should supply it with moisture from the outside. However, you shouldn’t overdo it either. This can also irritate the skin.
  • Lifestyle : Alcohol, nicotine and drugs can have long-term adverse effects on the health of your skin, making it dry and aging faster.
  • Age : Skin becomes drier and thinner as we age. Here, too, the skin should be well cared for.

All these factors cause a loss of moisture and fats in the skin. If the skin can no longer compensate for this loss of moisture, for example due to insufficient water intake, the skin becomes brittle and tight.

However, dry skin does not necessarily have to be the result of various causes. It can also occur as a symptom of various medical conditions, including:

  • Atopic dermatitis : Atopic dermatitis is associated with very dry and itchy patches of skin that become easily inflamed. Outbreaks occur, for example, with increased stress and allergy-causing foods.
  • Allergies : Allergic reactions often show up as dry, itchy skin and red patches of skin.
  • Ichthyoses : Ichthyoses are characterized by scaling, where the scales are often stuck to the skin. This occurs due to disturbed skin renewal, which also affects the formation of sebum.
  • Psoriasis : Psoriasis often occurs in episodes and is accompanied by severely reddened areas of skin and whitish flakes of skin.
  • Diabetes : Many diabetics suffer from dry skin that tends to become inflamed. Due to elevated blood sugar levels, the body can lose a lot of moisture, which can dry out the skin.
  • Gluten intolerance : Dry skin can also occur in people with gluten intolerance. If gluten is consistently avoided, illnesses such as neurodemitis and psoriasis can improve in many cases.
  • Stomach lining and bowel disease : Many of the fluids that keep the skin moisturized come from the stomach. If its functionality is disturbed, the skin can no longer be sufficiently supplied with moisture. The result is dry skin.
  • Hypothyroidism : Thyroid hormones can greatly affect the condition of the skin. If there is an underfunction, the skin can appear pale and flaky.
  • Malnutrition : In the case of malnutrition, the body is not adequately supplied with the most important nutrients and is therefore particularly susceptible to infections. The skin is also vulnerable and very dry.
  • Zinc deficiency : Zinc is an important trace element for the body to function properly. For example, it is involved in the production of hormones and the maintenance of metabolism. A zinc deficiency is often associated with dry skin, skin inflammation and impaired wound healing.

Dos: Proper care for very dry skin

Many symptoms of dry skin can be alleviated with the right care. However, if the symptoms persist and are accompanied by scaly patches of skin and inflammation, a doctor should be consulted urgently. Even if the symptoms appear very suddenly and perhaps other disorders such as inner restlessness, anxiety and weight fluctuations occur, you should contact a doctor immediately. He carries out several tests to rule out allergies. Sometimes laboratory tests are also used. If there is a disease, it is treated separately and possibly with medication . Cortisone creams , among other things, are used for serious skin diseases .

Mild but regular care

Dry skin needs intensive care and moisture. When choosing your care products, you should pay attention to a few factors. Since dry skin is often very sensitive at the same time, you should only use mild care products that are pH-neutral and soap -free . In addition, particularly perfume-free products are recommended for dry and sensitive skin. In any case, the products should be alcohol-free , as alcohol also dries out the skin.

Once you have found a mild and well-tolerated product for your skin, you should use it regularly. We recommend a care routine with a mild, soap-free and pH-neutral washing gel for the face and body, which ideally contains moisturizing substances such as glycerin, and a moisturizing cream that contains moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid as well as valuable and nourishing oils such as almond oil . You should use your moisturizer twice a day , in the morning and in the evening after cleansing, so that your skin is completely moisturized. You can find out more about the right moisturizer for your skin type here.

Recommended fabrics

Dry skin is very sensitive to the wrong care. Too rich or drying ingredients can irritate the skin and be accompanied by scaly and itchy skin areas and redness. So that you can better assess which ingredients are good for your skin, we have listed tolerable substances for dry skin. It’s worth checking the INCI list on the packaging so you can be sure it doesn’t contain alcohol and enough moisturizing ingredients. Recommended for dry skin are, for example:

  • Urea : Urea refers to urea, but nowadays it is only produced synthetically for cosmetic purposes. It is one of the most effective substances for dry skin and is used in numerous care products. Urea can bind moisture and thus ensures that it stays in the skin and keeps it moist. It can reduce feelings of tension and even itching. It also has a skin-smoothing and skin-soothing effect.
  • Hyaluronic acid : Hyaluronic acid is a particularly well-tolerated ingredient and is suitable for almost every skin type. It provides a particularly high level of moisture by binding large amounts of water. This effectively protects the skin from drying out.
  • Glycerine : Glycerine is also one of the excellent moisturizers. It binds water both from the air and from other ingredients in the respective care product. That is why glycerin should always be combined with other moisturizing substances. When formulated incorrectly, it can pull water out of the skin, causing it to dry out. However, most care products come with an appropriate formulation.
  • Aloe Vera : Aloe Vera is suitable for all skin types and can be used for numerous ailments such as sunburn. It has a cooling, skin-soothing and even anti-inflammatory effect. It is particularly mild and can therefore also be used for skin diseases such as neurodermatitis and psoriasis. It has strong moisturizing effects and can even smooth dryness lines.
  • Vitamin E : Vitamin E is not only a moisturizer that keeps the skin firm and supple, but also a true cell protector. It can neutralize free radicals that can attack cells and promote premature skin aging. The vitamin creates an effective barrier against pathogens and skin-irritating substances.
  • Panthenol : Panthenol is particularly suitable for dry and sensitive skin that is easily irritated. The substance supports wound healing by promoting cell formation and is therefore also ideal for sunburn. It can also be used as an anti-aging agent and moisturizer as it supports the formation of lipids that keep the skin moisturized.
  • Lactic Acid : Lactic acid is also an effective ingredient for dry skin. It can regulate the pH value of the skin and acts as a natural moisturizer by binding water in a similar way to hyaluronic acid. It can also gently exfoliate the skin by freeing the pores of calluses and impurities. Lactic acid is even suitable for sensitive skin.

Protect from cold and sun

Dry skin is very sensitive to external influences. You should therefore protect them sufficiently from irritating factors such as sun and cold. In winter you should use a so-called cold cream that protects the skin with beeswax and valuable oils. The cream is named after the cooling effect it leaves on the skin. It helps to regenerate dry skin and can prevent tension and reddening of the skin. The greasy cream protects the skin from the cold and keeps the moisture in the skin. Only when you are in a warm building should you use moisturizing creams. Without the protection of fatty creams, the moisture in the skin can freeze and damage the skin.

Just as you should protect your skin from the cold, you should also protect it from the sun and UV rays . This can severely stress and damage your skin. The sun can dry out your skin and cause long-term damage to your cells, which can cause premature aging and skin cancer . That’s why you should apply plenty of sunscreen to your skin, especially in summer. Sunscreen is also recommended in winter, as the harmful UV rays can penetrate even through a cloudy sky. If there is snow, the risk of sunburn is even higher. You can find out more about the correct use of sunscreen here .

Extra care for mature skin

Mature skin is often particularly dry, which is why it needs particularly rich care with lots of moisture and valuable oils . With age, the skin increasingly loses moisture, fats and the skin-supporting collagen. In addition, cell division is slowed down and the skin is less well supplied with blood and becomes thinner. In addition to moisturizing substances such as glycerin, urea and collagen, the moisturizing cream should contain many high-quality oils to keep the skin supple. Vitamin A in the form of retinol is also suitable for the care of mature skin and supports cell renewal.

Drink enough

Everyone should drink enough fluids every day. This is particularly recommended for people with dry skin, as the skin is supplied with moisture via the stomach and the lower layers of the skin. If the body is not supplied with enough liquid, this can manifest itself, for example, in dry skin, dry lips and even dry mucous membranes . You can use as much cream as you like – you won’t get rid of your dry skin without sufficient fluid intake from the inside. You can find out more about correct drinking behavior here.

Eat a balanced diet

Your diet also affects the appearance of your skin. For elasticity and radiance, your skin needs all kinds of important nutrients with all the important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids . Your diet should therefore be balanced. Try to get enough unsaturated fatty acids in the form of linseed oil , linseed , chia seeds , avocado or almonds . Almonds also contain a considerable amount of vitamin E. You can support your skin not only externally but also internally with the cell-protecting substance.

Vitamin C also has some great effects on your skin. Not only can it optimally support your skin in the form of a vitamin C serum , but also by getting enough of it through your food, for example in the form of kale , acerola or sea buckthorn . The trace element zinc in particular is particularly important for your skin. It promotes the metabolism and thus wound healing and thus ensures healthy skin. You can find the mineral in pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds , for example .

move a lot

Your skin also needs a lot of exercise. It doesn’t matter which sport you choose, whether you like to go jogging , do yoga or Pilates , play tennis or even pole dance – the main thing is that you move your body, ideally in the fresh air. The movement increases the blood flow to your skin and allows it to work better and be moisturized. Note, however, that you lose a lot of moisture when you sweat. You should therefore drink enough and care for your skin after exercise with a good moisturizer.

Don’ts: You should avoid this if you have dry skin

Dry skin is extremely sensitive and easily irritated. That’s why there are some factors that you should definitely avoid if you have dry skin, so as not to worsen your skin’s condition.

Grooming too much

Although you should take care of dry skin thoroughly and regularly, you should never over-care for it. Too much care damages your skin instead of doing it good. For example, if you use a care product that is too rich, this can clog your pores and lead to impurities or irritate your skin. Dry skin types are also often sensitive to water. That’s why you shouldn’t cleanse your skin too often. Once a day is quite enough.

If you suddenly discover a rash around your mouth, it may be perioal dermatitis , which usually occurs as a result of overfeeding. In addition to rashes around the mouth, dry patches also appear here. Instead of creaming, however, the only thing that usually helps here is a visit to the dermatologist.

Stress and unhealthy lifestyle

Stress and an unhealthy lifestyle also have a significant impact on the appearance of your skin. While some people react with blemishes, other people experience dry skin. In this case, you should definitely take care of stress management and relaxation . Treat yourself to a break and, for example, prescribe a wellness program with a moisturizing face mask. Try to compensate for lack of sleep by going to bed earlier each day. Your skin regenerates itself while you sleep. You can improve your skin’s appearance with just eight hours of sleep a day. It’s not called ” beauty sleep ” for nothing .

You should also avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Here’s how to quit smoking. Fast food puts a strain on your body and therefore your skin as well. Better to use fresh ingredients and cook yourself.

Dry air

Dry air from heating and air conditioning can also severely affect dry skin. It can dry out your skin severely, making it flaky, itchy, and red. Try to increase the humidity with a humidifier. Increased humidity also ensures that water-binding substances such as glycerin can bind more moisture from the air.

Skin drying habits

In general, you should avoid any habits that can dry out your skin. Do not expose yourself to direct sunlight and try to avoid air conditioning and heating systems. You should also avoid hot showers and only use lukewarm water instead. Hot saunas can also affect your skin. Instead, care for your skin with high-quality care products and valuable oils and thus ensure sufficient skin moisture.


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