Dry patches on the skin are a common issue, but persistent dry patches can be a sign of a deeper issue.
If you have one nagging part on your skin that never stops being itchy or a patch that is constantly red or flaking, there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. The sooner you know the cause, the sooner you can work to address it.
How Can You Tell If You Have Patches of Dry Skin?
Occasional dry skin is not uncommon with weather changes or disruptions to your routine, but if it lasts longer than a few days, it may be a sign that there is a greater issue at play. If you are unsure if you have normal, fleeting dryness or problematic dry skin patches, then you should look out for a few important signs.
The first key sign of dry skin is itchy skin. If you find one spot that is constantly itchy and flaky, it is likely dry and needs attention. Other indicators of dry skin include crusty, cracked, or irritated skin.
You can also find dry skin patches on your scalp. Of course, your hair makes these patches harder to see, pushing you to be more attentive. The most common signs of dry patches under your hair are frequent itchiness and flakiness.
Dry skin patches can be subtle, or they can be nagging and consistently annoying. Either way, they are detrimental to your skin’s health.
Hydration is vital to the health of your skin, helping to promote better skin structure, elasticity, and resilience. Hydrated skin is also stronger and more resistant to cuts and scrapes, while dry skin has a much higher risk of breaking.
Your skin is also an important part of your immune system, protecting against outside invaders. Dry and cracked skin can allow pathogens into the body, which can lead to potential illness. Because of the risks, it is crucial to target dry skin early to keep your skin strong and healthy.
What Are Some Potential Causes of Dry Patches?
Dry patches can be tricky, as they can indicate anything from a flaw in your skincare routine to an underlying skin condition. On the bright side, regardless of the cause, you can find effective relief.
If you have dry or scaly skin, there are several common causes to look out for.
1. Harsh Skincare Products
Skincare products are a vital part of an effective skincare routine, but they can also be misleading. Many skincare products can contain sneaky and harsh chemicals you may not even recognize. If you have sensitive skin, these chemicals may be extra-irritating – in which case, you may find yourself with scaly patches.
This issue can extend to your scalp as well, as shampoos can contain strong detergents that do more harm than good. In both shampoos and soaps, you should generally avoid ingredients like sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.
Fortunately, choosing better skincare products can have a very positive impact. In your search for the right products, choose fragrance-free products that use natural, plant-based cleansers rather than harsh detergents.
These are less harmful and provide your skin with helpful nutrients to support necessary hydration and healthy-feeling skin.
2. Not Moisturizing Enough
Moisturizing is a necessary part of any effective skincare routine. If you never moisturize, you can expect to see dry skin patches.
However, moisturizing alone isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get dry skin. Moisturizing infrequently or ineffectively increases your chances of dry skin as well. To give your skin a chance to absorb moisture first, try moisturizing daily after showering.
An ineffective moisturizer can also be a culprit behind dry skin patches. If you moisturize regularly and still experience dry skin, consider switching products.
When searching for a new product, look for hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. Some examples include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and emollient ingredients like almond oil, cocoa butter, shea buttere, or lanolin. If you have sensitive skin, give it a few weeks to respond to the new products before you determine whether it works.
Also, make sure to check your lotions for ingredients that can support your skin barrier, like ceramides. This is especially important if you’re exfoliating regularly, as frequently removing dead skin cell buildup can dry out your skin.
3. Frequent Hand-Washing or Bathing
This is a tough one – obviously we can’t skip hand-washing or showering, but washing is a common cause of dry skin. If you work in an environment where you have to wash your hands more often, then dry hands are almost impossible to avoid.
This is especially the case in the cold and dry winter months or if you live in a desert climate.
Washing your hands and skin with hot water washes away your natural oils, which help to retain the water that sits inside the top layer of your skin. In the shower, avoid turning the temperature up to piping hot.
Instead, keep the temperature lower — warm to lukewarm — to avoid drying your skin out. When washing your hands, even though hot water feels more effective, the CDC actually states that cold and hot running water remove the same amount of germs. You'll do your hands a favor by choosing hand soap that is moisturizing. Look for glycerin or shea butter as an ingredient.
4. The Weather
The winter features cold, dry, and unpleasant air. And as it turns out, your skin doesn’t appreciate it very much.
Dry air makes it difficult for your skin to retain water. The basic science of water molecules is that they try to fill empty space. When the air is dry, it pulls the water from your skin as the water molecules move to account for the lack of moisture in the air.
Yes, this is most common during winter, but if you live in a desert or other dry climate, you can expect the same results. Adding a humidifier to your home can help since putting more moisture in the air can help your skin retain moisture.
5. Sun Exposure
Spending just a few hours outside without sunscreen is enough to show you how harmful the sun can be to your skin. What’s more, frequent sun exposure is a common reason for dry patches on your skin.
The ultraviolet light from the sun is a form of radiation that is damaging to your skin. Dryness and sunburn are the two most harmful results, although there are plenty more.
Therefore, you should limit your time in the sun to under a couple of hours a day at most. When going outside, always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
6. Eczema, Psoriasis, or Seborrheic Dermatitis
There areseveral skin conditions that can leave you with dry skin patches. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema causes dry, itchy, cracked, and inflamed skin, usually in localized patches.
Psoriasis is another skin condition that can cause itchy, scaly, dry patches of skin. Psoriasis presents more often as a rash, and several different types can influence how the rash appears. Seborrheic dermatitis is a similar skin condition that mainly affects the scalp.
None of these conditions have a cure, and the causes of each are unclear. In all three conditions, factors like stress, dryness, diet, and air pollutants can cause occasional flare-ups.
Fortunately, some topical creams and ointments can help provide some relief. If you think you have any of these skin conditions, you should see a dermatologist.
They will be able to provide you with more personalized treatment and may recommend over-the-counter medications or provide a prescription for topical creams with steroids.
How Can Nutrition Help Skin?
The skin barrier has the vital function of protecting your body from harmful bacteria – but it also plays an essential role in preventing water loss from the skin. Because of this, disruption of the skin barrier can make the effects of dryness worse.
On the bright side, you can provide your skin barrier with valuable support by maintaining the right nutrition.
For instance, omega-3 fatty acids can help to support healthy skin barrier function. By including omega-3s in your diet, you can enjoy an extra form of protection against dry skin patches.
You can include more omega-3s in your diet by eating fatty, oily fish or by including supplements in your diet.
The most popular supplements are fish and krill oil supplements, but some lesser-known and more effective supplements are algae supplements. Algae supplements contain omega-3s that are absorbed better by the body and leave you with no fishy aftertaste.
iwi life’s 100% plant-based algae omega-3 supplements are an excellent option.
Other valuable nutrients to include in your diet for healthy skin structure are biotin, collagen, and vitamins C and E.
Boost Your Skincare
Dry patches are uncomfortable, but they are not inevitable. Addressing the above causes can help you enjoy more hydrated and healthier-looking skin. If you think you have any of the above skin conditions or can’t seem to solve your dry skin, then you should consult your dermatologist, who will be able to provide more personalized guidance.
At iwi life, we strive to support you on your journey to healthy, hydrated skin. Our algae-based omega-3 supplement helps support overall healthy skin, promote heart health, and much more, all in just one daily soft gel.
Explore our omega-3 supplements for yourself to see all the potential benefits.