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THE GUT PLACE

Dry Skin: Could It Be More Than It Seems?

Do you have dry skin that seems to need constant moisturizer to stop it cracking and flaking? Often, dry skin simply needs moisturizing but there may be with many factors beyond just moisture involved.  For some people dry skin can be linked to inflammatory conditions or autoimmune disease. Here’s how to know if your dry skin could be one of the signs of an autoimmune condition.  Of course, if you suspect that your dry skin is a sign of autoimmune disease you need to speak with your provider.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells, which turn over faster than skin cells normally would. These new skin cells build up more quickly than your body can shed them and that results in raised areas of dry, red and itchy skin. This can happen anywhere on the body. Some people with psoriasis will go on to develop a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. 

Other symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding 
  • Itching and burning feelings on affected areas
  • Thick, pitted nails

Eczema

Like psoriasis, eczema is an exaggerated inflammatory response that triggers symptoms. This inflammation results in red, dry, itchy and scaly skin. Eczema symptoms can potentially be reduced through medications that target the immune proteins that target healthy tissues and trigger an autoimmune reaction. Eczema can occur anywhere on your body, but it’s common for it to affect the elbows, backs of the knees and hands. 

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • Skin that is dry, red, itchy, sore and prone to cracking
  • Itchy skin that may also burn
  • Oozing and crustiness that can occur if you scratch affected areas

Scleroderma

Patches of thick, hard and dry skin can be a symptom of scleroderma, which develops due to hardening of the body’s connective tissues. An autoimmune response regarding scleroderma means that collagen is produced to the same extent that it would if there was an injury to the skin. 

Depending on how severe the condition is, it can potentially be serious and sometimes even life threatening. This is because it can go far deeper than just localized to the skin. The systemic sclerosis type of scleroderma can also affect the blood vessels, muscles and vital organs. 

Other Autoimmune Conditions That Can Affect the Skin

Some other autoimmune conditions can cause dry skin, although this is rarely their only symptom. Some of these include: 

Thyroid problems can cause dry skin, especially hypothyroidism. This autoimmune condition develops when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce high enough levels of thyroid hormones. This generally reverses when you start taking thyroid medication to get your thyroid levels back to normal. 

Type 1 Diabetes is another autoimmune condition that can affect the skin. It can cause dry and itchy skin that is also prone to infections, especially on your feet. Other symptoms include being thirsty a lot, needing to go to the bathroom frequently and feeling tired. 

Sjögren’s Syndrome can cause dry skin. It also tends to make your eyes and mouth dry and affect the joints, muscles and salivary glands. You can be more likely to develop Sjögren’s syndrome if you already have an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. 

Natural Relief for Dry Skin

If you believe that autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are the reason for your dry skin talk with your doctor or dermatologist. You’ll often be given medications and topical creams to tackle the inflammation and make symptoms less severe. 

Below we have listed some ideas for natural relief of dry skin. 

  • Biotin supplements: When someone has biotin deficiency they may have scaly, dry skin, brittle nails, and some hair loss.  Biotin helps keep our metabolic, nervous, and digestive system healthy. 
  • Olive oil can be used as a natural facial cleanser and also helps to nourish dry skin. Sunflower seed oil can also be a great option for moisturizing dry skin on the body. Coconut oil is another option as well. These options may demonstrate these positive effects due to the fatty acids that give it emollient properties. 
  • Avocado face masks can soothe dry skin on your face. It also is simple to make yourself. To do so, mash up around half an avocado and mix with a teaspoon of olive oil. Adding a teaspoon of honey can also work for very dry skin. Leave it on your skin for up to 20 minutes and wash off with warm water. Don’t use very hot water to wash it off as this can dry the skin out even more. 
  • Oatmeal Bath: For dry skin that affects the rest of your body, try adding oatmeal to a warm (but not hot) bath. It can help to soothe the discomfort of dry skin and can also be moisturizing. Oatmeal can be used as a face mask too. To use it in your bath, blend oatmeal in a blender or food processor and mix it into warm water.
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