Most people occasionally suffer from dry skin. However, not everyone experiences the symptoms that accompany severe dryness. This can include cracks in the skin that may bleed, allowing germs to enter the body. This can potentially cause an infection. Extremely dry skin like this can lead to dermatitis, which is the inflammation of the skin. The earlier dermatitis is diagnosed and treated, the less discomfort a person will experience. Unfortunately, dermatitis will only worsen without treatment.
Keratosis pilaris is a common condition often present with dry skin. The rash is characterized by itchy, small, hard “goosebumps,” which can appear red and swollen. Though harmless, keratosis pilaris can be embarrassing for those affected. Whether you have dry skin or an accompanying condition, visiting a dermatologist can provide the relief you need.
Typically, environmental factors are responsible for the appearance of dry, cracked skin. This can include phenomena like cold temperatures, low humidity, frequent hand washing, long, hot showers, swimming in a highly chlorinated, pool, and/or the use of harsh soaps and detergents.
Keratosis pilaris occurs when excess dry skin builds up around individual hair follicles, leading to inflammation. This hair follicle plugging can also lead to acne. Though most think keratosis pilaris is hereditary, about half of those affected with the condition have no known family history.
Symptoms of dry skin include roughness, scales, flaky skin, and itching. This can happen anywhere on the body, and some dry skin rashes may appear red in color. Keratosis pilaris, by contrast, typically appears on the upper arms, the fronts of thighs, the buttocks, and, though less often, the face. These itchy, dry, sandpaper-like bumps typically disappear in the summertime and reappear in the winter, when environmental conditions tend to make skin drier.
In order to select and receive a recommended treatment, dry skin must be closely examined by a medical professional. Moisturizers, especially those containing lactic acid or urea, may be prescribed to help the skin retain water. For extremely dry skin, a topical cream, like a corticosteroid or an immune modulator, may be prescribed to relieve itching, redness, and swelling. While there are many dry skin treatments available over the counter, the most effective are those recommended by medical professionals.
Keratosis pilaris treatments typically include exfoliation, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or medicines containing a retinoid, alpha hydroxyl acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. Additionally, laser and light treatments can help to reduce both redness and swelling. Keratosis pilaris treatment generally takes between 4 and 6 weeks to complete, and several approaches are often combined in order to yield the best possible results. Keratosis pilaris can gradually disappear over the course or several years, but the condition must be controlled with maintained treatments.