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Dry and chapped skin: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dry and chapped skin

The skin is a very sensitive organ especially when exposed to extreme temperatures. The skin may get dry and chapped especially in the winters or in the windy season. Certain areas of body like palms, eyelids, lips and the cleft between fingers are especially prone to dryness. Dry and chapped skin is not a serious condition, although it may cause intense distress to the affected individual.

Dry and chapped skin: Incidence, age and sex

Dry and chapped skin is a fairly common skin problem encountered in the general population. It may be seen in any age group. Its incidence increases in the winter season.

Signs and symptoms of dry and chapped skin: Diagnosis

Dry and chapped skin is itself a symptom signifying loss of natural lubricating oils in the skin. The skin becomes rough and develops cracks or fissures. The exposed body parts like eyelids, lips, palms and the cleft between fingers are at higher risk of getting chapped. Sometimes vitamin deficiency may result in cracked lips especially at the angles of the lips.

Causes and prevention of dry and chapped skin

The skin gets dry and chapped on exposure to extreme temperatures. It is most commonly seen during winter season and also in windy weather conditions. Nutritional deficiency of vitamins A, B and C may also result in dry and chapped skin. Wearing clothes washed in harsh detergents or excessive use of medicated soaps are also some offending factors. Diet insufficient in legumes and whole grains leads to reduced essential fatty acids in body which are responsible for maintaining the lubrication of skin.

Dry and chapped skin may be avoided by using sunscreen creams when going out during summers. Avoid harsh detergents for washing clothes. It is advisable to wear protective gloves when repeated work with water is required as in scrubbing and washing. A proper, balanced diet may help reduce the incidence of dry and chapped skin. Using lukewarm water instead of hot water to take bath may also help. Moreover it is advisable to use humidifier in winters to prevent loss of moisture from skin.

Dry and chapped skin: Complications

Generally dry and chapped skin does not cause any complications. However in rare cases, it may lead to superimposed bacterial infection of skin lesions which may occur especially in children due to repeated scratching.

Dry and chapped skin: Treatment

The treatment of dry and chapped skin has a multi-dimensional approach which includes topical ointments, adequate diet and sufficient sleep. The antiseptic ointment is usually prescribed for such skin conditions. Increase the intake of vitamin A rich foods like carrots and green leafy vegetables. Moreover, diet rich in legumes and whole grains should be consumed to avoid depletion of essential fatty acids. Evening primrose oil supplements may also help.