Dry skin is often temporary — you get it only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong condition. Signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health, where you live, time spent outdoors and the cause of the problem. In most cases, experiencing dry skin isn’t a big concern. It’s extremely common, can occur in people of all ages, and can pop up anywhere on the body, from the hands and face to the legs and stomach.
Dry skin is likely to cause one or more of the following:
A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
Skin that feels and looks rough
Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
Fine lines or cracks
Grey, ashy skin
Deep cracks that may bleed
Dry skin often has an environmental cause. Certain diseases also can significantly affect your skin. Potential causes of dry skin include:
Skin tends to be driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet, especially if you live on the highveld of South Africa. Coastal winter weather is more forgiving on your skin.
Hot baths and showers
Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin. So can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
Harsh soaps and detergents
Many soaps, detergents, and shampoos subtract moisture from your skin and scalp, as they are formulated to remove oil. It’s important to carefully choose face washes, body washes, and laundry detergents. Using only moisturising body wash is better than a harsh bar soap.
Other skin conditions
People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis are prone to dry skin.
To combat dry skin, moisturise your whole body daily. Rub oil all over your body when you get out of the shower and moisturise with a body butter. Don’t forget to include your hands and feet when moisturising.