Test And Diagnosis for Dry Skin

Monday, June 30, 2008

Your doctor is likely to conduct a thorough physical exam and to ask questions about your medical history, including when your dry skin started, what factors make it better or worse, your bathing habits, your diet, and how you care for your skin.

You may have certain diagnostic tests if your doctor suspects that your dry skin is the result of an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism.

Through examination and tests, your doctor may determine that your dry skin is, in fact, a sign of another skin condition. Related dry-skin conditions include:

* Keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris causes small, acne-like bumps, which usually appear on the upper arms, legs or buttocks; they usually don't hurt or itch. The bumps create rough patches and give skin a goose flesh or sandpaper appearance. Typically, patches are skin colored, but they can, at times, be red and inflamed.
* Ichthyosis vulgaris. Sometimes called fish scale disease or fish skin disease, ichthyosis vulgaris develops when skin cells fail to shed normally and instead accumulate in thick, dry scales. The scales are small, polygonal in shape and range in color from white to brown. Ichthyosis vulgaris may also cause scalp flaking and deep, painful fissures on your palms and soles.
* Asteatotic eczema (eczema craquele). This condition causes dry, scaly, deeply fissured skin that some doctors have described as resembling cracked porcelain or a dry riverbed. The affected skin may become inflamed, itchy and may bleed.
* Psoriasis. A frustrating and sometimes disfiguring skin condition, psoriasis is marked by reddened skin with dry, silvery scales that sometimes resemble dandruff. In severe cases, your skin may crack, bleed and form pus-filled blisters. Psoriasis is a persistent, chronic disease that tends to flare periodically, and although it may go into remission, it usually remains active for years

When To seek Medical Advice For Dry skin

Most cases of dry skin respond well to self-care measures. See your doctor if:

* Your skin doesn't improve in spite of your best efforts
* Dryness and itching interfere with sleeping
* You have open sores or infections from scratching
* You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin

Dry skin Risk Factor

Dry skin is a nearly universal problem, but certain factors make you more likely to develop tightness, flakiness and fine lines. These factors include:

* Your age. As you age, your skin tends to become drier because your oil-producing glands become less active. Your complexion can appear rough and dull. The lack of oil also causes cells to clump together in flakes or scales.
* Your sex. Although everyone's skin changes with age, a man's skin tends to stay moist longer than a woman's does. Men experience a relatively small decrease in oil production until well into their 80s, whereas women's skin tends to become much drier after menopause.
* Sun exposure. Like all types of heat, the sun dries your skin. Yet damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation penetrates far beyond the top layer of skin (epidermis). The most significant damage occurs deep in the dermis, where collagen and elastin fibers break down much more quickly than they should, leading to deep wrinkles and loose, sagging skin (solar elastosis). Sun-damaged skin may have the appearance of dry skin.

Causes of dry skin

Most dry skin is caused by environmental exposures, such as:

* Weather. In general, your skin is driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. Winter conditions also tend to make many existing skin conditions worse. But the reverse may be true if you live in desert regions, where summer temperatures can top 110 F and humidity levels sink to 10 percent or less.
* Central heating and air conditioning. Central air and heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
* Hot baths and showers. Frequent showering or bathing, especially if you like the water hot and your baths long, breaks down the lipid barriers in your skin. So does frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
* Harsh soaps and detergents. Many popular soaps and detergents strip lipids and water from your skin. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are usually the most damaging, as are many shampoos, which dry out your scalp.

Other factors
Other factors, including certain diseases, can significantly alter the function and appearance of your skin. These include:

* Psoriasis. This skin condition is marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales.
* Thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormones, reduces the activity of your sweat and oil glands, leading to rough, dry skin.
* Alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and caffeine can visibly dry your skin. Prescription drugs such as diuretics, antihistamines and isotretinoin (Accutane) also have a drying effect.
* Dehydration. Severe diarrhea and vomiting, a high fever, profuse sweating during exercise or simply not drinking enough liquids can cause your body to lose more fluid than you take in. One of the first signs of dehydration is skin that has lost its elasticity.

Travel Troubles

What do you remember best from your last vacation: the tropical beaches, the historical ruins, the exotic wildlife? Or are your memories of the food poisoning you got from that first dinner, or of spending the night in a strange emergency room after spraining your ankle? Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than getting sick or injured. Here's a look at the six most terrifying travel risks—and how you can prevent them.

Whatever your vacation plans this summer, watch out for these three frightening risks.

Diarrhea. Sometimes termed turista or Montezuma’s revenge, it’s common for travelers visiting foreign countries to feel ill after drinking the local tap water or eating food prepared with poorly sanitized water. As many as half of all international vacationers will develop diarrhea (usually during the first week of their trips), The best way to prevent it is to drink only bottled water or boil local tap water. Also beware of fruits and vegetables that may have been rinsed with local water.

Blood clots. Sitting still for long flights, like those to Europe, Asia, and Australia, can cause a dangerous condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It develops when a blood clot forms in the leg or thigh and, in very serious cases, travels through the bloodstream, possibly getting stuck in the brain, lungs, or heart, People with high blood pressure and diabetes are at greatest risk. One way to help prevent it is by walking, even very short distances up and down the plane aisles, before and during the flight.

Accidents. The State Department estimates that more than 200 American citizens die in traffic accidents abroad each year. Remember, other counties have different safety laws than the United States. For example, cars may lack seatbelts, or boats may not be required to keep life jackets on board. If you’re driving a rented vehicle, research the local rules before you get there: Which side of the road do they drive on? Who has the right-of-way at traffic circles? Is it customary to honk when going around a sharp bend?

Symptoms Of Dry Skin

Dry skin is often just a temporary problem — one you experience only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong concern. And although skin is often driest on your arms, lower legs and the sides of your abdomen, this pattern can vary considerably from person to person. What's more, signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health status, your locale, the amount of time you spend outdoors, and the cause of the problem.

If you have dry skin due to normal aging, you're likely to experience one or more of the following:

* A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
* Skin that appears shrunken or dehydrated
* Skin that feels and looks rough rather than smooth
* Itching (pruritus) that sometimes may be intense
* Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
* Fine lines or cracks
* Redness
* Deep fissures that may bleed

Dry skin Difinition

It's time for me to get into blogging again. And this time I want to concentrate posting about health. So here is a post about Dry Skin.

Ordinary dry skin (xerosis) usually isn't serious, but it can be uncomfortable and unsightly, turning plump cells into shriveled ones and creating fine lines and wrinkles. More serious dry skin conditions, such as the inherited group of disorders called ichthyosis, can sometimes be disfiguring enough to cause psychological distress.

Fortunately, most dry skin results from environmental factors that can be wholly or partially controlled. These include exposure to hot or cold weather with low humidity levels, long-term use of air conditioning or central heating, and excessive bathing.

Chronic or severe dry skin problems may require a dermatologist's evaluation. But first you can do a lot on your own to improve your skin, including using moisturizers, bathing less and avoiding harsh, drying soaps.

Lifesyle and Home Remedy for Dry skin

Although it may not be possible to achieve flawless skin, the following measures can help keep your skin moist and healthy:

* Moisturize your skin. Moisturizers provide a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping. Thicker moisturizers work best, such as over-the-counter brands Eucerin and Cetaphil. You may also want to use cosmetics that contain moisturizers. If your skin is extremely dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin is still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers do and prevents the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin.
* Use warm water and limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less, and use warm, rather than hot, water.
* Avoid harsh, drying soaps. If you have dry skin, it's best to use cleansing creams or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added moisturizers. Choose mild soaps that have added oils and fats, such as Neutrogena, Basis or Dove. Avoid deodorant and antibacterial detergents, which are especially harsh. You might want to experiment with several brands until you find one that works particularly well for you. A good rule of thumb is that your skin should feel soft and smooth after cleansing, never tight or dry.
* Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin. Immediately moisturize your skin with an oil or cream.
* Use a humidifier. Hot, dry indoor air can parch sensitive skin and worsen itching and flaking. A portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace adds moisture to the air inside your home. Portable humidifiers come in many varieties. Choose one that meets your budget and any special needs. And be sure to keep your humidifier clean to ward off bacteria and fungi.
* Choose fabrics that are kind to your skin. Natural fibers such as cotton and silk allow your skin to breathe. But wool, although it certainly qualifies as natural, can irritate even normal skin. When you wash your clothes, try to use detergents without dyes or perfumes, both of which can irritate your skin.

If dry skin causes itching, apply cool compresses to the area. To reduce inflammation, use a nonprescription hydrocortisone cream or ointment, containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone. If these measures don't relieve your symptoms or if your symptoms worsen, see your doctor or consult a dermatologist.

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