Dry skin results from lack of water in the outer layer of skin cells (stratum corneum). When this layer becomes dehydrated it loses its flexibility and becomes dry, cracked, scaly and sometimes itchy. The stratum corneum contains natural water holding substances, including urea, which retain the water seeping up from the deeper layers of the skin. Water is also normally retained in the strateum corneum by a surface film of sebum, which slow down the evaporation of water from the skin surface.
The skin dries out when too much water evaporates from the surface. This increase with age, and is made worse by excessive washing because hot water and soap can remove the layer of natural oil on the skin surface. Dry Skin can be present in several dermatological conditions including atopic dermatitis (eczema), ichyosis and psoriasis.
Emollients are the standard treatment for all dry and scaly skin conditions. They smooth, soothe and hydrate the skin. Emollients need to be applied frequently to be effective.
Not all emollients are the same. They contain a range of different ingredients, and some dry skin conditions respond better to some emollients than others.
To help heal your dry skin and to prevent dry skin from returning try using warm water rather than a hot shower. Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 mins.
Ensure you choose non-irritating clothes and laundry detergents.
Another way to help heal your dry skin is by adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier.