Finding Out What Causes Dry Skin

Dry, flaky skin can be a big annoyance. If you, too, are annoyed with your flaky, itchy skin, you are perhaps looking to understand what causes dry skin and effective ways to treat it.

Know causes of dry skin

Dryness is the result of un-moisturized skin. Dry skin occurs when your skin lacks sufficient moisture to stay hydrated. Your skin could become dry due to frequent bathing or use of chemicals or harsh soaps. The change in weather from hot summers to cold winters may also make your skin dry.  The cold dry air brings with it low humidity, which can cause loss of moisture in the skin, making it dry and flaky.

How Does Dry Skin Look Like?

Dry skin appears inflamed, irritated, and dehydrated. It may feel rough and scaly. Overly dry skin is itchy, cracked, and painful. Cracked skin has deep fissures that may bleed.

Dry Skin Symptoms

Also known as xerosis, dry skin is a common condition for people of all ages. Although it is not a serious problem, treatment may be difficult if it is correlated with other pathological conditions, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and malnutrition.

Before you look for dry skin remedies, it would help to know its symptoms. Your health, age, location, and time spent outdoors may be responsible for your dry skin.

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Cracking, flaky skin
  • Fine lines
  • Skin tightness
  • Rough skin
  • Scaling
  • Gray, ashy skin
  • Bleeding deep cracks

Although a dry skin condition is usually temporary, it may turn into a life-long condition for some people.

What Causes Dry Skin

The weather or environmental factors may be blamed for your itchy, flaky, and dry skin.

Cold season

The winter season is the driest season. This means you should take extra steps to heal dry skin during winters. But why does your skin become dry skin in the cold season?

Since there is low humidity in winters, it means there is a constant loss of moisture from your skin’s surface. When outside and inner temperatures plummet, your skin becomes even drier. If you spend long hours in the AC (air conditioner), your skin will become drier, as it will soak all moisture from the air. As a result, it lowers skin’s resistance, drying out surface cells. So you should aim for an indoor temperature that’s comfortable for your skin, and not too low or high.

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Additionally, if left untreated, dry skin can easily crack and flake, exposing you to outside irritants that can cause an inflammatory response. Moisturize your skin frequently to help prevent winter dryness.

Soaps/Harsh Detergents

Choose moisturizing lotions that moisturize your skin and minimize the use of perfumed, deodorant soaps, harsh detergents, and alcohol products, all of which are harsh on the skin and formulated to strip away natural oils. As a result, the skin becomes dry.

When your soft skin comes in contact with abrasive household products, the skin’s protective barrier breaks down. The application of a chemical-laden moisturizer on the affected area further weakens the skin, increasing its irritation overload and resulting in itching, burning, redness, and stinging.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, petroleum jelly is a dry skin soother that is made up of only one ingredient and is gentle on the skin.


While winters cause your skin to become dry, you may be surprised to know about another cause of dry skin. Space heaters, central heating, fireplaces, and even wood-burning stoves reduce humidity, remove moisture and make your skin dry.

Too much exposure of the skin to central heating systems may cause it to become dry and itchy.


If you take long, hot showers, you remove moisture from the skin and make it even drier. No doubt, it provides you with a soothing escape. Too hot water affects the moisturizing ability of your skin’s cells and removes protective lipids and damages skin proteins. The top layer of the skin is weakened. As a result, the deeper layers are exposed, causing more moisture loss. Not only this, when the inner layer is exposed, it affects the skin’s ability to retain water.

Bathe in warm water and do not shower for longer than 5-10 minutes.

Other Causes of Dry Skin

Several drugs may be another cause of dry skin. These medications may include systemic retinoids or diuretics.

As you age, your body undergoes constant metabolic changes. This affects your body’s liquid intake, which is associated with the skin aging process, and causes loss of skin elasticity. Women with hormone imbalance problem in menopause or those affected by thyroid disorders can experience severe skin dryness.

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Although you cannot turn back the clock, you can still minimize the aging process. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. A generous rub with a rich face cream can help moisturize your skin and minimize wrinkles. It’s a good idea to look for creams, lotions, and moisturizers containing alpha-hydroxy acids and retinol.

Dry Skin Treatment

Skin is your barrier against the outside environmental elements that cause a depletion of lipids and skin moisture content.

Apply moisturizing creams, ointments, and emollients to keep your skin hydrated and ward off dry skin conditions. These topical creams reconstitute cutaneous hydrolipidic film that helps retain water in the skin and protect damaged skin, making your skin soft, supple, and smooth. Composed of lipid, sebum, and sweat, the hydrolipidic film has all the properties to safeguard the skin against non-resident bacteria and create a skin barrier.

These moisturizers are one of the best dry skin treatment alternatives as they preserve natural skin lipids, besides sealing moisture in the outermost layer of the skin.

Ravneet Kaur
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Ravneet Kaur

A health aficionado herself, Ravneet has been researching and writing on emerging health and wellness issues for over a decade. With a focus on healthy living, she has been an ardent lover of nature, who believes in holistic ways of healing. Her areas of expertise include women’s health, diet and weight management, healthy living, alternative healing, and mindful parenting. She is working with non-profits to spread awareness about healthy eating habits, fitness goals, and lifestyle disorders. Ravneet also blogs at
Ravneet Kaur
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