10 Surprising Causes of Dry Skin

Dry skin is a very common problem among all age groups and there are various factors that can cause this problem. This condition is also known as "xerosis" or "xeroderma" and it is commonly characterized by lack of moisture content in the skin. The reasons can be multiple, ranging from a cold weather to low humidity. Read this article to learn some surprising causes of dry skin.

Causes of Dry Skin

Dry skin can be caused due to a variety of reasons. Lack of moisture is not the only reason for this problem. The skin is a very sensitive part of the body and different substances can trigger different problems these substances also differ from person to person.


Genetics plays a role in the development of dry skin. Due to mutation, the skin’s ability to retain moisture can change which leads to dryness. Consider the filaggrin gene as an example, this gene is responsible for the production of filaggrin protein which helps the body to retain moisture. Due to mutation of this gene, an individual loses his/her ability to hold back moisture resulting in dry skin. Similarly, mutation of the "ichthyosis vulgaris gene" can also cause dry skin.

It's worth noting that while genetics may be a contributing factor in some cases of dry skin, it is not the only cause, and environmental and lifestyle factors also play a role in the development of this condition.

Hard Water Problem

When the concentration of magnesium and calcium rises in water then it is known as “hard water”. These minerals can dry the skin by plugging the oil glands and turning the skin into a thick layer. Hard water not only causes dryness but also can aggravate the condition of acne and infection. This kind of water prevents the absorption of moisture which degrades the health of the skin and causes several other issues. Consultation with a dermatologist is very important to treat such conditions.

Medication for Acne

Majorly all the medication for acne contains “salicylic acid”. This compound can be beneficial for treating acne but it can induce dryness of the skin. Similarly, retinol also produces the same effect on the skin. An individual should not completely cut off these medications, the best way is to slowly decrease the frequency of medicine intake and at the same time use a skin-friendly cleanser.

Other medications such as diuretics, antispasmodics, and antihistamines, can also cause dry skin as a side effect.

Environmental Factors

There are many environmental factors that can cause dry skin. These factors include low humidity, cold temperatures, wind, and prolonged exposure to water (such as from frequent showers or swimming). Overexposure to hot water can also make the skin dry. Low temperatures can cause dryness of the skin because the cold air outside and heated air inside can remove moisture from the skin.

When the air is dry, it can cause the skin to lose moisture which can lead to dryness, itching, and redness. Also, when the temperature drops, people are compelled to take hot showers which can strip the skin of its natural oils and induce dryness.

Soaps and Detergents

Many soaps and detergents contain substances that can induce dryness in the skin. According to an American report, the majority of soaps and detergents are formulated to remove oil from the skin. This process can accelerate and wipe out essential moisture resulting in dried-up skin.

Excessive Handwashing

People who wash their hands frequently can encounter this problem of dryness. Excessive washing cracks up the skin which results in further dryness. The frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also dry out the skin as they a contain high percentage of alcohol which can dehydrate the skin. To prevent dryness from excessive handwashing, use a gentle soap, avoid hot water, and dry your hands thoroughly after washing.


Aging can cause dryness of the skin because as we age, our skin naturally loses some of its ability to retain moisture. The production of natural oils in the skin decreases, which can lead to dryness, itching, and wrinkles.

As we grow older, the synthesis of important body fluids decreases which again contributes to this dryness. It is important to use a good moisturizer on a regular basis to help keep your skin hydrated and to help protect the skin's barrier.

Medical condition

There are certain medical conditions that can aggravate the problem of dry skin. Some conditions are psoriasis and eczema. In some cases, dry skin could also indicate malnutrition and kidney failure.


Another intriguing cause of dry skin can be fragrance. Fragrances in skincare and cosmetic products can cause dryness of skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. Many fragrances contain alcohol, which can dry out the skin by removing natural oils.


In cold seasons, the temperature is low and there is very little moisture in the air. These two factors are responsible for dry skin during winter. Indoor heating systems can dry out the air, which can cause the skin to lose moisture and become dry and itchy.


Long hot baths or showers, certain medical conditions, and certain medications can also be some probable reasons for dry skin. In order to manage dry skin, it is important to keep the skin moisturized by using a lotion or cream, taking short lukewarm showers or baths, and avoiding harsh soaps and detergents. If your dry skin is severe or persistent, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Updated on: 10-Mar-2023


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