Are you often slathering lotion on your legs, arms, feet, and hands? Is your skin tight, itchy, red, or flaky? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have dry or dehydrated skin.
When the skin on your legs is dry, it is incredibly uncomfortable. Some skincare products prevent dry skin from occurring and lessen the side effects. Knowing the cause of dry skin and how to reverse it is essential for maintaining healthy, supple skin.
Dry Skin vs. Dehydrated Skin: What’s the Difference?
Dry and dehydrated skin may present similar symptoms, but they differ in their causes. Below, we explain the differences between each and how to reclaim healthy, supple skin.
What Is Dry Skin and What Causes It?
Dry skin is a skin type often resulting from genetics. Just like oily, sensitive, and normal skin types, dry skin requires special care. Lack of oils in the skin leads to dry, rough, and flaky textured skin. As we age, the lipid production in our skin decreases, leading to dry skin. Symptoms of dry skin include:
- Scaly or rough texture
- Tightness or burning
- Lack of “bounce” or volume
Sometimes dry skin is caused by underlying health conditions. If at-home treatments do not relieve your dry skin, you may need to schedule a visit with a dermatologist.
What Is Dehydrated Skin and What Causes It?
Dehydrated skin is a temporary yet very common condition resulting from a lack of epidermal hydration. Dehydrated skin occurs in all skin types and is relatively easy to treat. The stratum corneum, AKA the outer layer of your skin, requires water to remain hydrated.
When this water is lacking, the skin becomes dehydrated, often overproducing sebum (oil) to compensate for the lost hydration. This is often the cause of acne, skin irritation, and symptoms of dry skin.
Your skin may be dehydrated if you do not consume enough water throughout the day, drink alcohol or caffeine, or use skincare that is not designed for your skin type. Dehydrated skin looks like this:
- Sensitive skin
- Scaly, patchy, or rough texture
- Tightness or burning
- Lack of suppleness
- Premature aging (fine lines and wrinkles)
How To Prevent Dry & Dehydrated Skin
Prevention is key to avoiding dry, dehydrated skin from occurring. Here are a few things to avoid to prevent itchy, dry skin.
Avoid hot water. Hot water strips your skin of the very thing it needs — moisture. Instead of using hot water, opt for a lukewarm bath or shower to retain as much skin hydration as possible.
Avoid harsh cleansers. Cleanse your skin with fragrance-free, gentle soaps that do not irritate your skin.
Avoid long soaks in the tub. Exposure to warm water for too long robs your skin of the vital hydration it needs to remain healthy. Limit baths and showers to five or 10 minutes.
Avoid alcohol. Skincare products that contain alcohol, retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, fragrance, and some exfoliants cause dry skin. Opt for products containing hyaluronic acid, collagen, and shea butter instead.
Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps keep your body’s systems running smoothly.
How To Treat Dry & Dehydrated Skin
Treating dry skin may be tricky, especially if it’s very dry, chapped, or flaking. At-home remedies should help. Treating dry skin prevents infection and other skin problems. Try treating your dry, dehydrated skin with the following:
Drink water throughout the day. This water should come from beverages and food sources.
Use an ointment or heavy body cream on your legs rather than a lotion. Look for products containing jojoba oil, glycerin, shea butter, or hyaluronic acid ingredients.
Plug in a humidifier to add moisture to the surrounding dry air around you.
Go fragrance-free! Laundry soaps, shave gels, creams, and nearly all products contain fragrance. Opt for a gentle, fragrance-free option to calm your skin.
Moisturize post-shower. Lock in moisture by applying an ointment or cream after showering.
Gently exfoliate dry patches with a gentle exfoliating sponge. Follow with a moisturizer.
See a dermatologist. If the above measures don’t resolve your dry skin woes, visit a dermatologist.
Does Shaving Cause Dry Skin?
Great question! No. While shaving isn’t the cause of dry skin, it may be a contributing factor. Your skin type, the shaving products you use, and your shaving technique can affect your skin’s condition after shaving.
Shaving can irritate your skin by removing the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving sensitive, fresh skin behind. This exfoliation can be quite irritating. To prevent dry, tight skin post-shaving, practice the following:
Prep your skin before shaving by making sure it's clean and exfoliated. Use a gentle, soap-free cleanser and body brush to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells gently.
Use a sharp razor. Dull razors cause razor burn, rash, irritation, and dry, itchy skin. Always use a sharp, clean razor for removing hair, and rinse the razor between each shaving pass.
Use a gentle shaving cream or gel. Shaving cream provides a barrier between your skin and the razor, preventing cuts, ingrown hairs, and nicks.
Use gentle pressure. Don’t apply too much pressure when shaving. Your razor should be doing most of the grunt work, not your hand, so use gentle pressure.
Moisturize your skin post-shaving. Moisturize the skin on your legs with an ointment or cream after shaving to prevent irritated, dry skin. If you are shaving your face, use aftershave or other non-irritating post-shave balm or moisturizer.
Dry skin on the legs post-shave results from either not prepping the skin beforehand, or not moisturizing with a rich cream afterward. Caring for your skin before, during, and after shaving is crucial for preventing dry, irritated, and itchy skin.
Who Develops Dry Skin?
Everyone is prone to dry skin; however, some factors make you more susceptible. The American Academy of Dermatology says that some people are more prone to developing dry skin. Some of these people include:
- People aged 40 and over. Sebum (oil) production in the skin slows after age 40.
- Some medications are the cause of dry skin.
- Workers in wet or harsh weather conditions experience dry skin.
- Individuals who smoke are more prone to having dry skin.
- Those with vitamin and mineral deficiencies often experience dry skin.
- Those with diabetes, thyroid, or kidney disease are more prone to dry skin.
- People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine are more prone to having dry skin.
If you experience any of these conditions, talk to a medical professional about treatment options. Treating dry skin before it worsens is imperative to preventing skin infections and disease.
Does Dry Skin Lead to Skin Infections?
If you experience dry skin with lesions that ooze fluid, this may be a sign of an infection or other skin condition. Skin rashes are common, and they may all look the same to an untrained eye. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends seeking medical treatment if you experience the following symptoms:
- All-over body rash: This may indicate an allergic reaction.
- Fever accompanying rash: This may indicate an allergic reaction or infection.
- A blistering rash: This may indicate an allergic reaction, internal issues, or reaction to medications.
- Painful rash: This may indicate an allergic reaction, infection, or other serious skin condition.
- Rash that oozes: Green or yellow fluid suggests infection.
- Red streaking: Streaking around the rash may indicate infection.
A board-certified dermatologist or medical doctor can determine if you are experiencing an infection, allergic reaction, or other skin condition that needs attention. See a medical professional at the first sign of infection to prevent a more serious outcome.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Preventing dry and dehydrated skin is essential to maintaining a healthy epidermal layer. You can do many things at home to care for the skin on your legs and the rest of your body. If your skin presents signs of a rash or infection, it is crucial to see a dermatologist to rule out a more severe skin condition.
If you are prone to sensitive, dry skin, use fragrance-free skincare soaps and moisturizers. Gentle soaps help maintain your skin’s moisture barrier and prevent irritation. We at Spongellé carry gentle and eco-friendly body buffers that give your skin a delicate cleanse.
Ingredients include ashwagandha root extract, hibiscus root extract, green tea extract, and other essential oils. Wash away stress, exfoliate your skin, and prepare your skin for a close shave with Spongellé.
Dry skin: Signs and symptoms | AAD
Histology, Stratum Corneum - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
Water and Healthier Drinks | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC
Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin | AAD
Dry skin: Who gets and causes | AAD