Itchy and dry skin? 4 surprising causes you must know

Published on Sep 09, 2022 02:45 PM IST

Thyroid, diabetes, liver issues, skin infections or ageing? What your itchy and dry skin is saying about your overall health and well-being.

Is your dry skin indicating certain medical conditions? Here's what you need to know.(Freepik)
Is your dry skin indicating certain medical conditions? Here's what you need to know.(Freepik)
By, Delhi

Itchy and dry skin not only causes discomfort and pain but it could also be indicative of underlying health issues. If you have been facing persistent skin issues like infections, skin discolouration, too much itching, dry skin, you may suspect health issues ranging from diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid to even mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. So, is your dry skin warning you against certain medical conditions? Here's what you need to know. (Also read: 6 skin problems you may face when your kidneys are not working well)

Itchy skin affects everyone at some point or the other, but if it persists for longer - more than two weeks - and is intense to the extent that it prevents you from carrying day-to-day activities and even interferes with sleeping, it could mean presence of underlying skin conditions or health problems.

"Dry and itchy skin can impact your quality of life. It can also prevent you from sleeping properly at night and lead to anxiety and depression. Some common symptoms include constant or periodic itching on the skin, rough and dry patches on arms, hands, abdomen, ankles, hands, back and buttocks and even in the private parts. If you scratch to much or ignore the dry skin then cracks can develop on the skin leaving it open to bacteria attacks. Also, itchy skin tends to become leathery and thick and dry and darker," says Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics & Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai, India.

DRY SKIN UNDERLYING CAUSES

SKIN INFECTIONS

"Dry skin causes itchy skin and when not treated or controlled in time can become rough, old looking, and feel red, and raw and even lead to further dermatological issues like dermatitis, bacterial infections, skin discoloration, eczema, and disfigurement," says Dr. Rinky.

CHRONIC DISEASES

Dr Rinky says conditions causing dry skin include thyroid issues, diabetes, kidney problems, liver issues etc. The dermatologist adds that even addiction to smoking can cause the skin to itch and become dry.

MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS

Anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression are also some of the surprising causes of an itchy skin. Certain nerve disorders like multiple sclerosis, pinched nerves and shingles (herpes zoster) are also responsible for your dry skin.

AGEING AND GENES

Dr Rinky says one of the reasons of dry and itchy skin could be as simple as just ageing which can start as early as 25 yeas of age or an underlying skin condition or just the weather or a location change.

"In the present times the sanitization agents that we have been using to ward of covid virus such as the sanitizer, alcohol wipes and chemical cleaners are also causing severe dryness on hands, arms, face, back and legs. You also might be facing dry and itchy skin because of your genes," says the dermatologist.

TIPS TO HANDLE ITCHY AND DRY SKIN

• Limit your baths/showers to under five minutes. Anything more than that will dry out the skin and rob it off the natural oils that are much needed to keep the skin looking good.

• Petroleum jelly should always be there with you. Make sure you carry a small jar of petroleum jelly with you at all times. When you feel dryness just rub some on dry areas of the skin. Don’t overdo with the jelly otherwise you will end up with greasy skin.

• Pat dry your skin after the bath and immediately apply moisturiser as it will keep the moisture locked it and prevent clogging of pores.

• Soap is a big no-no. Soaps are drying and disturb the pH level of the skin making it too dry and itchiness even worse. Switch to gentle cleaners for face and body.

• Moisturise the air in space you work and live in. Use a humidifier to prevent the air from becoming dry and thus help the skin reload moisture.

• Choose fabrics that love your skin. Cotton, silk etc. love the skin and wool irritates the skin and may cause outbreaks.

• Use a sunscreen regularly it will save your skin from ageing too. Give preference to cream based sunscreen instead of simple lotions.

• Include fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts in your diet to reduce skin inflammation and hydrate the skin from inside out.

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