Dry skin is a common skin condition that is characterised by reduced production of sebum, loss of existing sebum and environmental conditions that increase water loss.
In simpler words, if the skin has little to no sebum, the skin losses water and becomes dry.
In addition, environmental factors (such as dry indoor air, wind, and sun) can cause more water loss from the skin surface and overpower the function of the sebum to retain water, hence the skin dries up and cracks.
As a result of little to no sebum, dry skin lacks the lipids that it needs to retain moisture and build a protective shield against external influences.
Before I move on to discuss the characteristics of dry skin, I want to briefly talk about sebum.
Sebum is a thick oily and complex mixture of lipids that forms a protective barrier against water loss. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands in the epidermal layer of the skin. Hence, sebum is a key component that helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin. It also has the function of protecting the skin from parasitic microorganism.
So, you can see how important sebum is to the skin.
Dry skin is also known as xerosis, xeroderma or asteatosis. The common characteristics of dry skin include:
· Barely visible pores on the skin, consequently inadequate sebum on the surface of the skin.
· Itching, scaling, and flaking of the skin may occur, therefore prone to redness, irritation, and infection.
· Reduced skin elasticity, hence, the skin feels tight and fragile.
· Heightens fine lines and wrinkles on the face and body.
· The texture of the skin feels rough with a dull and uneven skin 7complexion.
Apart from the face, dry skin is easily noticed on the hands, arms, legs, and feet.
Furthermore, dry skin affects people of all ages.
However, elderly people are more prone to having dry skin due to reasons such as the loss of function of the sebaceous and sweat gland and decrease in the skin collagen and fat, hence leading to loss of skin elasticity and density.
Also, people who live in dry climates, work outdoors, or wash frequently get dry skin.