There are definitely certain times of the year when the skin is drier and flakier. Winter weather can be especially tough on the epidermis, but dry skin can certainly happen any time of year. It is important for people to take good care of their skin because it has the important job of protecting the body from viruses and bacteria. Any type of sore, abrasion, or crack from overly dried skin can be a direct line into the body and a huge risk for infection.

There are several reasons why the skin can become drier and more irritated than usual, and this article will aim to explain those issues. It will also include ways to avoid excessive drying and the steps that people can take to get some relief. Speaking with a doctor at a dermatology office in Detroit, Sterling Heights or Grosse Pointe is always an option as well!

Dry Skin Explained

Every single person will lose up to an entire pint of water each day through the surface of their skin. The official name for this water loss is “transepidermal water loss” which is sometimes shortened to TEWL. There are a few key factors that can increase the amount of water lost to more than a pint, such as being in an environment with low humidity. Other causes for increased TEWL include:

  • Excessive exfoliation
  • Sunburn
  • Use of harsh soaps
  • Chemical exposure
  • Swimming in highly-chlorinated water
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Ichthyosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Alcohol
  • Exposure to solvents

The skin is technically considered dry when the moisture level drops below 10%.

Protecting Skin from Dryness

There are a few steps that people can take to cut down on TEWL. These include the following:

  • Bathing in a better way: To alleviate some of the symptoms of dry skin, it may be necessary for a person’s bathing rituals to change. The bathroom door should be kept closed to retain the humidity, and the shower or bath time should not exceed ten minutes. The water temperature should be closer to warm than to hot, and all soaps used should be gentle and mild. Unscented cleansers should be used whenever possible, and the bather should avoid over-exfoliating. Doctors of dermatology in Detroit, Sterling Heights and Grosse Pointe recommend patting the skin dry instead of aggressively rubbing.
  • Moisturize immediately and often: As soon as a person with dry skin exits the shower, they should slather moisturizer all over their body. The areas of the skin that are extremely dry would fare better with an ointment. Lip balm can be used to keep the lips moisturized and non-flaky.
  • Opt for unscented: All skin care products used on dry skin should be unscented. This should include deodorants, lotions, makeup, and soaps. Severe cases may even want to ensure that fabric softeners and laundry detergents are unscented as well.
  • Wear a pair of gloves: Whenever a person suffering from dry skin is cleaning the home, washing dishes, or doing anything that involves harsh cleansers, a pair of gloves should be worn. Gloves or mittens should also be worn in the winter months while outside in the cold and dry air.
  • Keep the air humid: Those living in drier climates should run humidifiers in the home to keep the moisture content in the air higher thus slowing down the effects of TEWL. Even those in humid climates may need to run a humidifier in the winter months. Also, dry skin patients should not sit too close to a fireplace or a campfire as that also sucks moisture from the skin.
  • Visit a dermatology office in Detroit, Grosse Pointe or Sterling Heights: If the dry skin issues are extremely severe or they do not improve with effort, it may be time for the patient to discuss the issues with a dermatologist. It is possible that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed in order to get relief.

Understanding Moisturizers

While there may be a multitude of lotion and balm brands on the market, there are really only three different types of moisturizers. There are products that use only a single type of moisturizer, and there are those that use a combination of types. For those that are confused about which is best for their own skin, consulting with a doctor at a dermatology office in Detroit, Grosse Pointe or Sterling Heights is the best way to know exactly which one is best.


This is a very interesting type of moisturizer because it doesn’t attempt to simply prevent TEWL, it actually draws moisture into the skin from the outer layers. After someone applies a humectant, it begins to penetrate the layers of skin. As it moves deeper, it pulls the water molecules down with it. In effect, the humectant increases the skin’s ability to absorb water.

Humectants contain active ingredients such as urea, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid. There are also humectants that have been created with compounds known to occur naturally in the skin. These include ceramides, pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, and filaggrin.

While humectants can increase the amount of water in the skin, they can also cause the deep dermal layer to dry out when applied in a low humidity environment. In order to avoid that problem, people should look for a product that contains humectants as well as occlusives.


This type of moisturizer works as a barrier. Once applied to the surface of the skin, the occlusive stops TEWL by sitting on the stratum corneum or outer layer of the skin. Things like shea butter, mineral oil, and Aquaphor are all occlusives. Even though they are very effective at moisturizing the skin, many people do not like using them on a daily basis because they can leave the skin feeling sticky or oily. Also, they can leave oily spots on clothes and bed sheets.


All of the lotions, ointments, and creams that people tend to use each day are emollients. These products work by penetrating the stratum corneum and seeping deep into the layers of the skin. Emollients also bind with the various proteins in the skin. These bonded proteins fill in the gaps between the skin cells, which blocks the water from escaping.

No one has to suffer from dry skin. Anyone having difficulty relieving the symptoms should discuss the issue with a doctor in a dermatology office in Detroit, Sterling Heights or Grosse Pointe. While the information we’ve shared in this article can be of some assistance to those with dry skin, an evaluation by a skin care professional can provide a customized plan to alleviate and prevent dry skin.