IS IT ATOPIC ECZEMA OR JUST DRY SKIN?
FROM CAUSES TO SOLUTIONS
Dry skin occurs when skin’s surface lipid or oily barrier is stripped by external factors (cold weather, hard water, harsh cosmetics, etc.). Skin feels prickly or tight, and chapping and irritation can occur. The solution? Nourishing, soothing and protective creams. Distinct from dry skin, eczema causes an itchy rash. It primarily affects children but adults can suffer from the condition too. Although skin is dry in atopic eczema, having dry skin does not mean you have atopic eczema. It’s important to know the difference: While lifestyle changes can be made to improve both conditions, and both atopic eczema and dry skin are treated with emollients, doctors also prescribe steroid creams for atopic eczema.
WHAT CAUSES DRY SKIN?
Why do dry, itchy patches of skin appear?
Dry skin occurs on the face or body when our skin loses its ability to protect itself – when its “skin barrier function”, or protective layer, has been weakened. Fewer and fewer lipids (oily substances) are produced at the skin’s surface. Skin cells lose their capacity to retain water, which then evaporates.
Different factors can cause skin to become dry and itchy:
- Genetics (dry skin may run in your family)
- Very cold temperatures and wind
- A hot and dry climate
- Central heating and variations in indoor and outdoor temperatures
- Sunshine (UV light)
- Harsh products such as astringent (or skin-drying) soap
- Fragrances and other additives in unsuitable cosmetics
How to tell if you have dry skinTo work out if you have dry skin, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the skin rough to the touch?
- Does it feel “tight” like it’s a size too small?
- Can you see surface cracks, chapping or flaking?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you probably have dry skin. If, on top of these signs, your main symptom is intense itching, you are more likely to have atopic eczema. Click HERE to find out more about the difference between dry skin and atopic eczema.