Sure, most everyone knows that cold weather or dry climates can suck the moisture right out of skin. But there are plenty of other surprising reasons why your skin is dry, including some everyday habits that seem pretty harmless. As it turns out, all kinds of health conditions, medications, or even skincare products can wreck havoc on your skin.
Although it may seem like dry skin is simply a nuisance, it can have real effects on a person's health. For instance, cases of extremely dry skin can cause cracks, making it easier for germs to get in and potentially cause an infection, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Keeping your skin soft and moisturized is not only a form of self care, but it's also important health care as well.
However, it isn't always easy to figure out why your skin is so frequently dry. Sometimes it feels like no amount of lotion is ever enough, because your skin just keeps on feeling tight and flaky no matter what. It's frustrating. If this sounds familiar, then keep reading to learn more about the sometimes surprising reasons skin may be dry. Some of your habits that are supposed to help skin stay soft and supple may be the very things causing it to dry out.
1. Taking Long Showers With Hot Water
Long, hot showers certainly feel relaxing, but they may not be doing your skin any favors. "Excess contact with water can dry out skin and even prevent oil production," as Angie Seelal, RPA-C, Certified Physician Assistant with Advanced Dermatology PC, tells Romper. "Long hot showers or baths can strip our oils. This can be prevented by taking cooler baths or showers and spending less time soaking." There are plenty of other potential benefits to using cooler (or even cold) water in your shower. For instance, taking cold showers could help you reduce stress and even take less sick leave, as explained in Bustle. If nothing else, the cold water encourages you to get clean in a hurry.
2. Washing With Harsh Soaps
Some people's skin can get irritated by intense soaps or cleansers. "Soap and harsh shower gels strip away the skin's protective oils, leaving dry and damaged skin," says Seelal. To help keep your skin from drying out, check the ingredients list on your cleansers. "You want to try and use fragrance-free products that have gentle ingredients and minimal preservatives," says Seelal. To get you started, there's a guide to gentle face washes on Elite Daily, as well as a roundup of body soaps for sensitive skin on Bustle. Mainstream brands such as Dove and CeraVe are recommended on both lists, so it's easy enough to pick up a bottle at your regular drugstore.
3. Taking Certain Medications
If your skin is super dry for no apparent reason, then check the side effects of your medications. "Medications such as diuretics used to treat high blood pressure and Accutane used to treat acne" can cause dry skin, as Dr. Elizabeth Mullans, Board-Certified Dermatologist practicing at Uptown Dermatology in Houston, TX, tells Romper. If this is the case, then talk to your doctor or pharmacist about safe ways to help manage your particular case of dry skin.
4. Using Scented Moisturizers
Paradoxically, your regular lotion or moisturizer may be the very thing that's drying out your skin. "Some moisturizers and body lotions containing alcohol or strong fragrances can dry out skin," says Seelal. Again, opting for products with gentler formulas is often your best bet. "Moisturize one to two times a day with a cream such as Cerave Cream or Aveeno Eczema Cream," says Dr. Mullans. Choosing a fragrance-free formula is also a good idea.
5. Having Health Conditions
Sometimes dry skin can be a sign of potential health concerns. "Dry skin can be caused by several medical conditions, including but not limited to diabetes, thyroid problems, and hormone imbalances," says Seelal. If you suspect this may be the case, then visit your physician for a check-up.
6. Using Antibacterial Soap
Again, it's generally best to opt for cleansers that only have gentle ingredients. "Avoid antibacterial soap, which can be drying," says Dr. Mullans. Unless you're instructed to use antibacterial soap for medical reasons, then just use the regular stuff instead.
7. Toweling Off Roughly
It's such a simple thing, but dry off with care after your shower or bath. Rigorously toweling off after a shower can actually cause dry skin, explains Dr. Mullans. In fact, people with sensitive skin may prefer bamboo towels, which are especially soft, as well as resistant to mold and mildew, according to Bustle. Cariloha's towels (and bedding) are made of viscose-from-bamboo fabric that's super absorbent and even repels odors and allergens.
8. Having An Underlying Skin Condition
If you're still baffled by the appearance of dry skin, then visit your doctor for advice. "If changing the excess showers and hot temp of the water in the shower is not helping, and they have tried to moisturize twice a day as recommended, then they should schedule an appointment with their dermatologist to see if there is an underlying skin condition and alternative treatment is required," says Seelal. If none of the other surprising causes of dry skin are to blame, then it's time to bring in the skincare professionals for more advice.