Many people suffer from weather-related dry skin in the winter. The cold air strips the skin of its natural moisture barrier and causes the top layer to dry out and flake off. It usually clears up in a few days with regular use ofmoisturizer. However, there are a few more severe, though common, skin conditions that can cause similar symptoms and require a few changes to your daily skincare routine.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a generally hereditary condition that can occur year-round. In some cases, it is caused by irritants such as fabrics (wool is a common culprit) or allergic reactions to anything that touches your skin, from skincare products to laundry detergent. Although skin may become dry, you'll probably notice red, itchy patches that can scab and flake off. Use a mild soap and moisturizer especially designed for sensitive skin, which will contain fewer ingredients likely to exacerbate the condition. Your doctor may prescribe a cortisone cream to soothe the redness and irritation. Stay away from drying cleansers,acneproducts and AHAs. Non-irritating fabrics such as cotton will also help keep flare-ups at bay.
Like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis' symptoms include can include red, itchy skin. It is also exacerbated by climate changes. But that's where the similarities end. Seborrheic dermatitis isn't a dry-skin condition; it's a stress-and-hormone-induced overgrowth of yeast in thesebaceous glands. It causes flakes around the eyebrows, in the folds of the nose and on the scalp (commonly known as dandruff). Your doctor will most likely prescribe an anti-fungal cream to control the yeast, and you should see results in about a week. Continue your normal skincare routine while you're on the medication, but stop using any acne treatments oralpha hydroxy acid-based products, which can dry skin out and make the symptoms worse.
Psoriasisis a severe skin condition that affects lighter-skinned individuals. It can start as early as the late teens or early 20s but can show up anytime. Unfortunately, doctors aren't sure what causes the disease, but genetics may play a role. The symptoms are red, irritatedlesionscovered in scaly, flaky skin. Normal skin cells turn over about every 28 to 30 days. However, psoriasis sufferers' skin cells regenerate much more rapidly -- about every three to four days -- and cause the lesions, which usually appear on the hands, elbows or buttocks. There is no cure, but the regular use of cortisone ointments and heavy moisturizers can keep mild flare-ups at bay. More severe cases require oral medication such as Accutane or Tegison (aretinoid). No single treatment will work in all cases. You may have to try several medications or combinations before you see results.