Dry skin is a common complaint for both men and women. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dry skin occurs when your skin cannot effectively maintain its content of water and skin oil, also known as sebum. Anyone can develop dry skin, at any age, although it occurs more frequently during dry, winter months. Using proper skin care products -- including soaps -- can help to minimize the appearance of dry skin.
Dry skin can cause a variety of symptoms in different people. According to MayoClinic.com, some of the more common symptoms of dry skin include a feeling of tightness or dehydration, itching, varying degrees of flaking, fine lines or cracks, redness or irritation and even deep fissures that can bleed. Severe cases of dry skin can cause scaling or peeling and can even interfere with your everyday life.
While dry skin can be caused by genetic factors, it can develop or become exacerbated by low humidity conditions, especially those caused by dry winter weather, according to the University of Iowa Department of Dermatology. In addition to environmental factors, some of the most common causes of dry skin are cleansing with the wrong type of soap, washing with water that is too hot, exposure to harsh chemicals or the normal aging process.
Best Soaps For Dry Skin
Cleansing with the wrong type of soap and using improper cleansing methods can exacerbate the appearance of dry skin. If you have extremely dry skin, you should avoid washing with harsh soaps, which can strip your skin of its natural moisturizers. According to the University of Iowa Department of Dermatology, the best soaps -- such as Dove, Neutrogena Dry Skin Formula, Aveeno Cleansing Bar for Dry Skin and Oil of Olay Sensitive Skin Soap -- are mild, less drying and recommended for people with extremely dry skin. Cetaphil cleanser is a gentle non-soap option for cleansing extremely dry skin.
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You can avoid exacerbating extremely dry skin by following a few preventative measures, according to MayoClinic.com. Only use lukewarm water when you bathe or shower. Limit the length of your bath to no more than 15 minutes. After washing, immediately apply a moisturizer formulated for dry skin to help your skin hold in moisture.
According to MayoClinic.com, if you don't care for dry skin properly, you may develop skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema; folliculitis, which is an inflammation of your hair follicles; or a bacterial infection known as cellulitis. If your skin is cracked or bleeding, consult a dermatologist immediately.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.