By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
What Is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is when your skin dries out because it doesn’t have enough moisture. It isn’t usually serious, but it can be irritating. If your dry skin is severe, you should see a doctor.
There are many causes of dry skin from the temperature outside to how much moisture is in the air and many types.
Types of Dry Skin
Although dry skin is usually temporary, there are types of dry skin that could last year-round. If your dry skin lasts a long time, it could be one of these types:
- Athlete’s foot: If your feet feel dry, it could actually be athlete’s foot. This condition, which results from a fungus, can make the soles of your feet dry and flaky.
- Contact dermatitis: Sometimes things that touch your skin cause an allergic reaction. Your skin could get dry, itchy, and red. You might also get a rash. It can happen with things like makeup products, medications, detergents, or metal in jewelry (nickel).
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis): If you have dry, red, and itchy parts of your skin, you could have eczema. This can make your skin crack, too. You can get this skin condition from your parents, but things like allergens, stress, and other irritants can make it worse.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: When your scalp is too dry, you can get dandruff. (It’s called cradle cap when babies get it.) You might have dry, flaky skin on your arms, legs, groin, face, ears, or near your bellybutton, too.
Dry Skin Causes and Risk Factors
Usually, dry skin happens because of things in the environmental, like the weather. Dry skin can be caused by: 
- Harsh detergents or soaps: Soaps, shampoos, and detergents are made to get rid of oil on your skin. That means they can also dry it out by stripping out all the moisture.
- Heat: Any heat source, from space heaters and central heating to fireplaces and wood stoves, can lower the humidity in a room and make your skin dry.
- Hot showers or baths: Taking long, hot showers or soaking in a hot bath could cause your dry skin.
- Other skin conditions: People with certain conditions, like psoriasis or eczema, can also get dry skin.
- Swimming in pools: Chlorine, a chemical that keeps some pools clean, can dry out your skin.
- Weather: During the winter, humidity and temperature usually drop. This can make your skin drier.
Dry Skin Symptoms
Dry skin can be different for everyone, since the symptoms will depend on things like your health, your age, and the cause of your dry skin. But chances are, when you have dry skin, you’ll have symptoms like: 
- Dehydration- Excessively dry skin has lost a lot of moisture, so it’s noticeably dehydrated. Signs of dehydrated skin include dryness, more noticeable fine lines, and itch.
- Flakes, rough texture- When the skin loses enough moisture, it starts to flake off. This causes the rough texture.
- Cracks in the skin- As the skin dries out, it shrinks. This shrinking causes cracks to form. Some cracks can become deep and may bleed.
- Itch- Some people who have excessively dry skin say their skin itches all (or most of) the time. The nearly constant itch can make it difficult to focus on everyday tasks, such as driving or getting your work done. The itch can make it difficult to fall asleep and can wake you from a sound sleep.
- Skin feels painful, may sting or burn- Dry, and cracked or raw skin often feels painful. When something touches the already painful skin, such as water, some people say their skin burns. In a cold, dry climate, this can happen to hairdressers and others who often have wet hands while at work.
- Wrinkled with a rough, loose texture- When skin loses a lot of moisture, it wrinkles and develops a rough texture. With age, it also becomes loose, as shown here.
- Skin infections- Excessively dry skin has breaks in its outer layer. This allows germs to get inside, which can lead to a skin infection. Signs of an infection are:
- Yellow crusts on the skin
- An area of skin leaks pus or other fluid
- Swelling and discoloration
- Peeling skin- The outer layer of our skin continually renews itself. As it does so, the body sheds dead skin cells. You usually don’t see this shedding. When the skin sheds more than the usual number of skin cells, such as when the skin becomes excessively dry, skin can peel off.
- Raw, irritated, and painful skin- When skin becomes excessively dry, it can feel raw from the cracking and bleeding. This woman’s hands have nicks and cuts that bleed.
What can you do about dry skin? 
- Here are some ways to combat dry skin that are effective if practiced consistently:
- Use a humidifier in the winter. Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the skin.
- Limit yourself to one 5- to 10-minute bath or shower daily. If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin’s oily layer and cause it to lose moisture. Use lukewarm rather than hot water, which can wash away natural oils.
- Minimize your use of soaps; if necessary, choose moisturizing preparations such as Dove, Olay, and Basis, or consider soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil, Oilatum-AD, and Aquanil. Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils.
- To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. If you don’t want to give them up altogether, be sure to use a light touch. For the same reason, pat or blot (don’t rub) the skin when toweling dry.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or washing your hands. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp.
- To reduce the greasy feel of petroleum jelly and thick creams, rub a small amount into your hands and then rub it over the affected areas until neither your hands nor the affected areas feel greasy.
- Never, ever scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.
- Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners.
- Avoid wearing wool and other fabrics that can irritate the skin.
When to see a doctor 
If environmental factors or aging is not the cause of dry skin, a person may have an underlying skin condition. If a person suspects this is the case, then they should speak to a doctor.
If home remedies and store-bought moisturizers do not alleviate the symptoms of dry skin, a person may also wish to speak to a pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments.
It is important to keep skin moisturized and to treat dry skin as soon as possible. If left untreated, dry skin can lead to:
- red patches
- bacterial infection
Redness, swelling, or pus may indicate a bacterial infection. If a person suspects their skin has become infected, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.