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February 09, 2018

Dry Skin Conditions: A Very Common Problem

Dry Skin Conditions: A Very Common Problem

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Dry skin is a major symptom in many skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema/dermatitis and ichthyosis

In the UK 24 percent of people seek medical advice for skin conditions1. However, 30 percent of people with mild and moderate skin conditions self-medicate1. The incidence of dry skin conditions is rising, 20 percent of children and 10 percent of adults have eczema, two to three percent have psoriasis and ichthyosis affects one in 250 people1. People over the age of 60 years develop dry skin as a result of the ageing process and, if left untreated, eczema can develop, especially if the person has a history of atopic eczema2. Dry skin is generally aggravated by environmental factors (including over-washing, use of soap and detergents and exposure to low-humidity), other medical conditions, some drugs, following injury or infection3.

Dry skin needs to be self-managed and treated to prevent skin conditions or reduce the symptoms of skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. Dry skin is a significant symptom, and is the main and constant symptom of eczema/dermatitis, psoriasis and ichthyosis. Dry skin will always be itchy, which will be scratched, resulting in red skin (a flare) and then constant scratching leads to damage, resulting in broken skin that becomes wet and weepy due to infection. The appearance of dry, flaky and scaly skin is unsightly, and the itch, discomfort plus embarrassment can affect quality of life for many people3.

Treating dry skin is key to the prevention and management of common skin conditions. The skin creams used for dry skin are generally emollients. If a dry skin condition flares, topical steroid creams and ointments in varying strengths, are usually recommended for short-term use confined to the specific area of skin that requires treatment. Steroids are generally prescription-only in the UK and should not be used continuously, as long-term use may cause complications such as thinning skin. Therefore managing dry-skin optimally is with longer-term use of emollients, which can be bought online or from pharmacies and/or prescribed by health care professionals.

Emollients are the first-line therapy for preventing and treating dry skin. An emollient is a moisturising treatment applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. There are different types of emollients. Leave-on emollients come in a variety of formulations including lotions, creams, gel and ointments. Alternatively, emollient wash products act as soap substitutes4. Not all emollients are the same, a simple emollient leaves an occlusive film on the skin reducing loss of water from the top layer of the skin (stratum corneum). A simple emollient, which is a cream or lotion, will have a short-lasting effect, so two to three hourly applications may be necessary to rehydrate skin, whereas an ointment will be longer lasting, around six hours but will be greasy and messy to use. Emollients formulated with additional ingredients, provide occlusion and humectant properties, which are longer lasting and cosmetically acceptable.

There are many emollients available.  People with dry skin should have the opportunity to make a choice of the most suitable emollient for their skin.

An emollient with added ingredients to address all symptoms of dry skin is a good choice. A humectant formulation will help hold water in the skin cells, and compensate for loss of natural moisturising factors seen in common skin conditions and older skin as well as occluding and preventing water loss from skin. Common humectant ingredients to look for in emollients include honey, glycerol and urea.

Ganodex is an effective cosmetic cream with natural ingredients that is proven to provide relief from itchy, irritated, and scaly skin. Customers describe their improved confidence as they bring out the best in their skin. Based on feedback and trial data over several years5, over 85 percent of Ganodex testers or users reported an improvement in their psoriasis, and an even higher proportion with their eczema. The cream is quickly absorbed, has a honey aroma, and is non-greasy after application.

References

1. Schofield J, Grindlay D, Williams H. Skin Conditions in the UK: a Health Care Needs Assessment. Nottingham. Centre of Evidence‐Based Dermatology, University of Nottingham. 2009; 6: 85-88.

2. Paul C, Maumus-Robert S, Mazereeuw-Hautier J, Guyen CN, Saudez X, Schmitt AM. Prevalence and risk factors for xerosis in the elderly: a cross-sectional epidemiological study in primary care. 2011;223(3):260-5

3 Moncrieff G, Cork M, Lawton S et al. use of emollients in dry-skin conditions: consensus statement. 2013. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology; 38(3):231-8.

4. NHS Choices. Emollients. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/emollients/ [accessed 26 Jan 2018]

5. GlycaNova data on file (2013-2017) including dermatologist studies and TalkHealth 2017 reviews.