A Guide on Knowing Whether Your Skin Is Dry or Dehydrated and Ways to Address the Problem

Differentiating skin dryness from skin dehydration is necessary to address both correctly.
BY Chella Caguin
| Last updated Jan, 2022
How to treat dry skin

One of the first things we do when we wake up in the morning is look in the mirror and stare at our faces. What are we supposed to do if we happen to see our face cracking and peeling with roughened texture? Do we simply wash it off and proceed with our usual skincare routine? Or do we seek consultation because something may be already wrong? Each of us may suffer from dry or dehydrated skin cases.

These occurrences are not new anymore because everyone may be in this situation. All of us could have either dry or dehydrated skin. However, how do we know which is which? What is the importance of knowing their difference? How do we treat those two skin conditions?

This guide will discuss why someone might have dry or dehydrated skin, the causes of these conditions, and most importantly, how to treat them.

Dry Skin 101

If you have dry skin, this just means that your skin type lacks the needed lipids in the skin. You can trace most individuals with dry skin to their genetic predispositions. However, having dry skin could also be due to the use of harsh oil-control products that cause stripping of the natural lipids found on the layer of the skin.  

The chronic underproduction of the sebum in the face may be persistent. Hence, it leads to the manifestations of skin dryness that could be very uncomfortable for us.

What Are The Characteristics of Dry Skin?

We could manifest dry skin in several symptoms. The more common manifestations, however, are the following:

• Presence Of Cracks In The Skin

It tends to shrink as the skin becomes drier than usual. As a result, cracks may be formed. Some of these cracks become severe, eventually leading to bleeding.

• Presence Of Flaky And Rough Texture

Because the skin does not contain the necessary lipids, it starts to flake off and gives off a rough texture.

• Itchiness

Some people with dry skin may experience itchiness, which can be bothersome, especially when doing daily activities.

• Peeling Epidermis

Aside from cracks and the presence of flaky and rough textures, dry skin may eventually peel. The skin continually regenerates and renews so that the outermost layer will shed the dead skin cells. This is not a common occurrence, but it may be evident with dry skin.

• Increased Chances Of Developing Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Or Eczema

Dry skin is most commonly associated with different skin conditions such as the above-mentioned ones.

What Causes Dry Skin?

As mentioned, the ultimate cause of dryness is the lack of natural oils in the skin. The following factors can worsen this:

• Genetics

Your genes would identify whether you produce sufficient lipids in the skin. If your other family members suffer the same problem as you do, you can safely deduce that it does run in the family.

• Extreme Temperatures

Too much heat and cold could flare up skin dryness. Showering for too long using hot water may also lead to skin dryness. Living in cold places could also be another factor for the skin to dry up.

• Harsh Skincare Products

Some skincare products available are responsible for dry skin cases globally. These products may strip off the sebum and lipids needed to keep the skin moisturized and hydrated.

Other possible causes of dry skin are an individual’s lifestyle, medical conditions, hormonal imbalances, and the natural aging process.

Who Are More Prone to Develop Dry Skin?

Everyone may develop dry skin, but specific populations are more prone to having one. Here are some of the following:

• Older Individuals

As the normal aging process goes, the skin tends to produce a decreased level of sebum that the skin needs to maintain its moisture. When we hit our 40s, the production drops significantly. Hence, the dry skin cases are mostly of the older population.

• Individuals With Vitamin Or Mineral Deficiency

If we do not have enough vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin D, zinc, and iron in the body, the risk of having dry skin increases. These vitamins are necessary to keep the skin healthy and youthful.

• Individuals Diagnosed With Kidney Disease, Thyroid Disease, And Diabetes Mellitus

These conditions are known to cause dry skin, especially in individuals who are undergoing dialysis for kidney failure.

Other populations prone to have dry skin include individuals whose occupations involve getting wet, smokers, cancer patients, and those diagnosed with skincare conditions.

How Can You Treat Dry Skin?

If you suffer from dry skin, you do not have to live with it forever. There are several available remedies for this condition. Consulting your dermatologist would be the first and most vital step that you should take. If there is no treatment, the state may worsen, and the risk of developing another skin disorder increases.

More often than not, dermatologists have the same treatment goals for their patients, such as:

Soothing the skin is the priority. The patient should be free from the symptoms manifested by dry skin, including flakiness, rough texture, itchiness, and even pain.

Address the needs of the patient accordingly. One patient’s problem may be different from the problem, so the treatment could also differ. Dermatologists should do a customized treatment plan.

• Educate the patients on the proper treatment to avoid exacerbating the condition.

Here Are Some Steps That Maybe Helpful On How To Treat Dry Skin:

• Treatment for the underlying skin problem

As mentioned, skin dryness could also be caused by undiagnosed skincare disorders. Your dermatologist would diagnose your condition to help alleviate the leading cause of skin dryness. Once you solve the root of the problem, you will resolve dry skin as well.

• Moisturizers

After determining the cause of your dry skin, your dermatologist will prescribe the proper moisturizer for you. It should contain the right active ingredients needed to combat the dryness.

This may include ceramides, cocoa butter, coconut oil, squalene, colloidal oatmeal, jojoba oil, argan oil, lanolin, and safflower oil, which will help keep the skin hydrated and moisturized.

• Lifestyle changes

Since several factors could make the skin dry, and lifestyle changes are necessary to prevent it from occurring. This highly depends on your situation, but here are some examples:

  • If you have a job that involves getting your skin wet, use the proper equipment to protect your skin. For example, instead of going bare hands, put on your trusty gloves before dipping your hands on the wet surface.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure that could also lead to skin dryness. Use the proper sunblock with the correct amount of SPF before going outdoors. Do not forget to bring your cap or hat to help protect you from the sunlight as well.
  • Start taking vitamins and minerals, as prescribed by your doctor. These will help keep the skin nourished, young, and healthy!
  • If you are not used to washing your face and putting on skincare products, now is the time to change your routine. Invest in good skincare products and have a skincare regimen. These will help you maintain your youthful glow!

Dehydrated Skin 101

When your skin is dry, it lacks water in the layers. Everyone could suffer from this condition, no matter their skin type, and it typically manifests as dull-looking skin with visible signs of aging.

One best way to test if you are suffering from dehydrated skin is doing the pinch test. While this test is not diagnostic and definitive, it is a good head start to know whether you have dehydrated skin.

As the name implies, the pinch test is done by pinching a small area of the skin – whether on the back of the hand, cheek, or arm and holding it for a few seconds. If the skin immediately goes back to its normal state, likely, you are not dehydrated. However, if it takes a few seconds to return, it may mean that your skin is dehydrated.

What Are The Characteristics Of Dehydrated Skin?

A healthy skin comprises approximately 30% water, which is essential in maintaining the skin’s structure, strength, and resiliency. When the skin loses too much water, skin dehydration occurs. Dehydrated skin may manifest the following:

• Presence Of Dry Skin Patches

Since the skin does not contain an adequate water level, it tends to form patches that may be scaly, itchy, and rough.

• Visible Signs Of Aging

Dehydrated skin would appear older than the usual – manifesting with fine lines and wrinkles. It may also appear sagging and less elastic than normal skin.

• Dull Complexion

The overall tone of dehydrated skin may appear dull and uneven. Since the skin does not have an adequate water level, it cannot repair itself. Hence, you may appear more tired than your normal state.

Aside from the above-mentioned signs of dehydrated skin, another manifestation is increased skin sensitivity. Since the skin’s moisture barrier is disrupted, its ability to protect the skin from the triggers is less. Hence, bacteria could easily penetrate the outermost layer of the skin, worsening the signs and symptoms.

What Causes Dehydrated Skin?

The main culprit of dehydration is excessive water loss. It may seem simple, but the cause of this water loss could be multifactorial and may depend on several factors. Here are some:

• Lack Of Water In The Diet

Some people love to stay hydrated by drinking water up to 8 glasses a day. However, some individuals drink less than the recommended amount, which leads to the development of dehydrated skin.

• Extreme Weather Conditions

Aside from skin dryness, extreme temperatures could also lead to the development of dehydrated skin. Cold and arid climates are more associated with skin dehydration when compared to those who are living in tropical climates.

• Known Skin Conditions

Individuals suffering from several skin conditions are more prone to developing dehydrated skin. Since their skin barrier is damaged, they are easily affected by the environmental triggers that may lead to skin dehydration.

Who Are More Prone to Develop Dehydrated Skin?

Some individuals are more prone to developing dehydrated skin than others. Here are some of them:

• Older Individuals

The older population is more prone to having dehydrated skin because they tend to retain less moisture and hydration than the younger ones. The sensation of thirst also decreases as one age, so they drink less water than usual.

• Individuals With Less Water Intake

As mentioned, the body’s hydration level and skin are highly dependent on an individual’s water intake. If you are less inclined to drink the advised eight glasses of water per day, you may have higher chances of having dehydrated skin.

Aside from the above-mentioned groups, individuals diagnosed with skin conditions are also prone to having dehydrated skin.

How Can You Treat Dehydrated Skin?

Consult your dermatologist to resolve your problem. However, there are also remedies that you may do for yourself.

Here are some tips for treating dehydrated skin:

Choose The Most Suitable Skincare Products For Your Skin Type

If you commit to doing a skincare routine, you should also check if your products are suitable for your skin type. Confirm to see if the products you’re using can help your dehydrated skin.

Skincare ingredients include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, cocoa butter, coconut oil, squalene, colloidal oatmeal, jojoba oil, argan oil, lanolin, and safflower oil, are very effective for dehydrated skin.

Use A Gentle Cleanser And Lukewarm Water

Chemical-free cleaners without harsh additives and artificial scents are helpful because they do not worsen the situation. They would be helpful for all skin types, even sensitive skin. The face’s moisture would be stripped off with chemical-based cleansers, leading to a more dehydrated face.

Avoid Using Harsh Facial Scrubs

Exfoliation is an excellent way to remove the dead skin cells accumulated on the skin’s outermost layer. However, it may do more damage than good if you have dehydrated skin. It could cause skin irritation, so you should choose other gentle exfoliating options.

Purchase A Trusty Humidifier

How Can You Treat Dehydrated Skin

This home appliance could help add moisture to the air in your home. It typically works by evaporating water through heat. Once the heat dissipates into the air, extra moisture and humidity give the skin more moisture.

Protect Your Skin

This may sound cliché, but treating and preventing dehydrated skin from occurring in the way. Here are some tips you may follow:

  • Do not forget to wear sunblock
    If you are already suffering from dehydrated skin, consider sunblock with the right amount of SPF as your best friend. This will keep your skin protected while retaining the moisture on your face.
  • Drink the recommended water intake daily
    Your water intake is another vital factor in treating dehydrated skin. It significantly improves the skin’s hydration and prevents dehydration from occurring.

Final Thoughts

Differentiating skin dryness from skin dehydration

Differentiating skin dryness from skin dehydration is necessary to address both correctly. These conditions may result from different aggressors or triggers, so you must know how to separate one from the other.

Through knowing whether you have dry or dehydrated skin, you can also take care of your skin better and avoid doing things that may worsen your condition even more.

Keep your skin glowing and healthy, avoid dry and dehydrated skin by following the steps and tips in this guide. Do you have dry or dehydrated skin? Let us know in the comments below!

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