Nearly everyone experiences dry, itchy skin at one point or another, but when is your itchy, dry skin a sign of a medical problem? In some cases, skin that’s chronically dry or itchy can signal an undiagnosed issue that needs medical attention.
The compassionate team at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut in Manchester diagnose and treat a full range of allergic, autoimmune, and inflammatory disorders, some of which involve the skin.
Skin is complex
Your skin is composed of several layers of cells, proteins, carbohydrates, acids, and fats. These components work together to provide a barrier between the rest of your body and the outside environment, preventing water loss through the skin.
External influences such as heat and cold can rob your skin of some of the key substances that hold it together, causing the skin to weaken. When the barrier is compromised, your skin can lose water, resulting in dryness and symptoms such as irritation, itching, flaking.
In addition, when your skin is fragile, particles from the environment can enter it more easily, further contributing to irritation.
Skin conditions that cause dry, itchy skin
It’s important to seek the help of a health professional to differentiate between a typical case of dry skin and a skin condition. The following are the most common conditions that cause skin to feel itchy and dry.
Also known as contact dermatitis, eczema is characterized by skin that’s very dry and itchy, and it may crack and ooze. Damage to the outer layer of skin prevents it from doing an efficient job of retaining moisture and blocking out substances. The skin may feel thick and leathery, and itching may be severe.
Allergic contact dermatitis
Sometimes your immune system can overreact to things that touch the skin. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis, and it can occur from a host of things, including cosmetics, fragrances, detergent, and jewelry.
Irritant contact dermatitis
This form of contact dermatitis happens when the skin is exposed to a substance that disrupts the skin’s outermost layer, causing inflammation. This can happen quickly after a single exposure, but it can also occur from exposure over time.
For example, people who work with certain chemicals as part of their job, such as nail technicians and hair stylists, are at risk for irritant contact dermatitis.
Psoriasis causes red, dry, scaly patches of skin to form. The immune system becomes overactive and causes skin cells to multiply much faster than normal. The silvery scales that develop feel very itchy and dry.
Visit a specialist
Getting an evaluation is the first step in caring for dry, itchy skin. Determining the underlying issue is key to developing an effective treatment plan and care regimen. Using a moisturizer that’s safe for sensitive skin is often part of a management plan for dry skin, along with steering clear of irritants.
The results of your evaluation can provide guidance on the best treatment approach to alleviate your symptoms. We take a comprehensive approach to evaluating and treating rheumatic and allergic conditions.
Give our team a call or submit an appointment request online to schedule a visit with a provider at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut today. Let our team help you find the right solution to effectively manage your skin condition.