Dry Skin Symptoms

Posted by Dr. Natasha Ryz on

Dry skin is a seemingly simple condition that has a wide spectrum of symptoms - from mild dryness and flaking to severe itching, redness and pain.

Dry skin symptoms are common during the cold, dry, winter months. 

Very dry skin is a more severe type of dry skin, and is characterized by skin barrier dysfunction, inflammation and damage.

Very dry skin symptoms are painful and frustrating, and often associated with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. 

To better understand symptoms of dry skin, it is helpful to compare it to dehydrated skin and very dry skin.

This article will discuss:

    • What is dehydrated skin?
    • What is dry skin?
    • What is very dry skin?
    • Summary
    • References

Dry Skin Guide. Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin vs. Very Dry Skin. Dry Skin Love Skincare.

Dry Skin Symptoms

What is dehydrated skin?

Dehydrated skin is skin that is missing water and water-holding substances, called humectants.

Dehydrated skin appears dry, rough, and may scale and flake. It may also show premature signs of aging, like surface wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

Symptoms of dehydrated skin include:

  • Loss of skin elasticity.
  • Skin feels tight, dehydrated.
  • Skin appears dull, rough and blotchy.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles are more pronounced.

Dehydrated skin can happen to anyone, regardless of skin type — if you have dry, oily or combination skin, you can still experience dehydration.

Read more: What is Dehydrated Skin?

Dehydrated skin can be relieved with the use of moisturizers and humectants, including glycerin, hyaluronic acid and natural moisturizing factors.

Dehydrated skin can also be improved with some lifestyle modifications, such as using a humidifier in your home to boost humidity levels.

Dry skin symptoms

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is skin that is lacking water, humectants and fats. Humectants absorb and hold water, while fats coat the skin and seal in moisture. When there is not enough water, humectants or fats, skin barrier disruption can occur, further worsening symptoms of dry skin.

Dry skin symptoms include:

  • Loss of skin elasticity.
  • Skin feels tight, dehydrated.
  • Skin appears dull, rough and blotchy.
  • Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles are more pronounced.
  • May have irritation and a burning sensation.
  • May have itching.
The following contribute to dry skin:
  • lack of water in skin
  • lack of water-holding substances called humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, natural moisturizing factors)
  • lack of epidermal lipids (ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol)
  • lack of sebum (triglycerides, wax esters, squalene)

Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands.

Sebum coats the skin, seals in moisture, and protects your skin from getting too dry. When there is not enough sebum, skin appears dull, rough and flaky, and skin feels overly tight, itchy and uncomfortable.

Dry skin is very common and can occur for a variety of reasons. You may have naturally dry skin. But even if your skin type is normal or oily, you can still develop dry skin from time to time. Dry skin can affect any part of your body.

Read more: What is Dry Skin?

Dry skin is often relieved with the use of moisturizers, a good face oil, and some lifestyle modifications, such as using a humidifier, avoiding harsh cleansers, and supplementing the diet with essential fatty acids. 

Dry Skin symptoms

What is very dry skin?

Very dry skin is a more severe type of dry skin, and is characterized by skin barrier damage, microbe imbalances and inflammation, leading to red, irritated, itchy skin.

Very dry skin symptoms include:

  • skin feels tight and dehydrated, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
  • skin appears dull, rough and blotchy
  • slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
  • fine lines and wrinkles are more pronounced
  • irritation and itching (pruritus)
  • inflammation and redness
  • deep cracks on hands and feet that may bleed
  • associated with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis

Very dry skin usually has underlying genetic components as well as environmental factors that play a role.

Very dry skin does not typically respond to just moisturizers.

Nutrient-rich oils, balms and barrier creams are required to improve very dry skin and protect against further damage.

Active ingredients, including vitamins, humectants, ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol can help repair the skin barrier, calm redness, and sooth irritation and itch.

Some people with very dry skin may also require medications to control symptoms, including antimicrobial agents, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory agents, immunotherapy, biologicals, phototherapy, and others.

Read more: What is Very Dry Skin?

Symptoms of dry skin

Summary

Dry skin has a wide spectrum of symptoms - from mild dryness and flaking to severe itching, redness and pain.

Very dry skin is a severe type of dry skin, with skin barrier damage and inflammation, leading to red, irritated, itchy skin. 

If you have very dry skin, you may require a dermatologist’s help, and they can prescribe medications to help with itching, redness and pain.

 

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References

American Academy of Dermatology website. Dry skin: Overview. www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/dry-skin-overview. Accessed September 10, 2021.

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Augustin, Matthias, Dagmar Wilsmann‐Theis, Andreas Körber, Martina Kerscher, Götz Itschert, Michaela Dippel, and Petra Staubach. 2019a. Diagnosis and treatment of xerosis cutis – a position paper. JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft 17 (S7): 3–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddg.13906.

Augustin M, Kirsten N, Körber A, Wilsmann-Theis D, Itschert G, Staubach-Renz P, Maul JT, Zander N. Prevalence, predictors and comorbidity of dry skin in the general population. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019b. Jan;33(1):147-150. 

Bennett, James. 2021. Helena Rubinstein (1915-1930). Cosmetics and Skin (blog). Accessed September 10, 2021. https://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/companies/helena-rubinstein-1915.php.

Caspers PJ, Lucassen GW, Puppels GJ. Combined in vivo confocal Raman spectroscopy and confocal microscopy of human skin. Biophys J 2003 July; 85: 572-80.

Dry skin: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics (who.int)

Kresken J, Daniels R, Arens-Corell M. Leitlinie der GD. Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie e.V.: Dermokosmetika zur Reinigung und Pflege trockener Haut. Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie e.V., 30. April 2009.

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Leveque JL, Grove G, de Rigal J, Corcuff P, Kligman AM, Saint Leger D. Biophysical characterization of dry facial skin. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem., 82, 171-177 (May/June 1987).

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Pons-Guiraud A. Dry skin in dermatology: a complex physiopathology. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2007 Sep;21 Suppl 2:1-4.

Proksch E, Berardesca E, Misery L, Engblom J, Bouwstra J. Dry skin management: practical approach in light of latest research on skin structure and function. J Dermatolog Treat. 2020 Nov;31(7):716-722.

Verdier-Sévrain S, Bonté F. Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanismsJ Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Jun;6(2):75-82.

Warner RR, Myers MC, Taylor DA. Electron probe analysis of human skin: determination of the water concentration profile. J Invest Dermatol 1988; 90: 218–24.

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