Dry skin usually results from controllable environmental factors, such as exposure to hot or cold weather with low humidity levels, long-term use of air conditioning or central heating, and excessive bathing. Other factors – including diseases like psoriasis, thyroid disorders, alcohol and caffeine, medications (antihistamines, diuretics, and isotretinoin) and dehydration – can significantly alter the skin’s function and appearance. Damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation may lead to collagen and elastin fibers breaking down much more quickly than they should, resulting in deep wrinkles and loose, sagging skin.

If not cared for, dry skin can progress to red, cracked and inflamed skin, and even cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection that may enter the lymphatic system and blood vessels. These complications are most likely to occur when your skin’s normal protective mechanisms are severely compromised. For example, severely dry skin can cause deep cracks or fissures, which can open up and bleed, opening the way for invading bacteria.

Moisturizers help to keep water from escaping. Oils prevent the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Bath or shower time should be limited to about 15 minutes or less, using warm rather than hot water. Avoid harsh, drying soaps. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin. Immediately moisturize your skin with an oil or cream. For very dry and scaly skin, creams containing lactic acid and/or urea may be beneficial. If dry skin progresses to dermatitis (red, itchy skin), corticosteroid-containing preparations may be helpful. If skin cracks open, wet astringent dressings may reduce secretions and prevent infection. Use a cool steam humidifier in your home, and choose clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and silk that allow your skin to breathe.

Our compounding pharmacist will work with you to provide customized therapies for dry skin and related problems.

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