Rough cracked skin
Skin is the largest organ in humans. Regulation of body temperature and forming a barrier to protect the body from infections are the vital function of the skin. To act effectively as a barrier, the skin needs to maintain an optimum moisture level. However, if the skin gets dry, then its effectiveness as a barrier against infection is compromised.
CAUSES OF ROUGH CRACKED SKIN
Rough and cracked skin can arise from both internal and external causes.
External causes of skin dryness include:-
- Unfavorable surroundings – Too hot, cold, or dry air affects the moisture level of the skin’s surface.
- Weather changes- Peak summers and winters worsen the symptoms of skin dryness.
- Ultraviolet sunrays- Harmful UV rays lead to premature aging of the skin and this aging skin is more prone to dryness.
Inappropriate skincare practices
- Frequent washing that includes frequent hand washing or long hot baths removes natural oils that form the skin barrier.
- Using alkaline soaps or harsh detergents removes skin lipids leading to dryness.
- Certain medications such as the ones used to treat acne, or diuretics to control blood pressure as well as certain medical treatments such as dialysis for kidney problems, radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer treatment cause dry skin as side effects.
- Certain occupations increase the risk of dry skin. This includes those occupations where there is either exposure to excess hot or cold air e.g., farmer, fisherman, etc. or exposure to chemicals e.g., cleaner, mechanic, etc. or frequent use of soap and detergents e.g., Doctor, nurse, etc.
Internal causes of dry skin include:-
- Genetic factors- It is seen that there are certain medical conditions such as psoriasis, keratosis polaris, ichthyosis, and atopic dermatitis, which are often genetic and include skin dryness as a symptom.
- Hormonal influences- Changes in the levels of certain hormones such as thyroid hormone, as well as estrogen and testosterone, strongly influence the lipid levels of the skin, thus causing dryness. In the case of women, this is especially noticeable during pregnancy or after menopause.
- Age- As the skin ages, the moisture content of the skin as well as the ability of the skin to hold moisture decreases. Also, with increasing age the sensation of thirst decreases. Along with this, the production of lipids in the skin decreases. This leads to skin aging and the development of wrinkles.
- Diet- It is seen that like other organs in the body, skin also requires a certain adequate amount of nutrients to function normally. For healthy skin right amount of vegetable oils and vitamins, especially vitamin E and vitamin C, is essential.
- Smoking- Cigarette contains toxins that decrease the blood flow to the skin and slow down the skin metabolism, thus possibly contributing to skin dryness.
SYMPTOMS OF ROUGHNESS OF SKIN
Dry skin can involve any part of the body; however, some areas are more susceptible than others to become very dry and even get rough and cracked. These areas include:-
- Hands– Cracks mainly occurs around the knuckles where the skin is tight. Frequent hand washing, weather changes and using alkaline cleansers and chemicals leads to dryness of the skin of the hands.
- Feet – In this mainly, the skin of the heels area becomes dry and may even develop cracks.
- Lips – Dry lips tend to develop cracks.
Usually, it is seen that dry skin progresses gradually. To begin with, dryness does not cause much discomfort. As the dryness increases, the skin becomes tight, scaly, rough and itchy. Extreme dryness leads to shrinking of the skin that eventually develops cracks, particularly in areas that need to flex during movement such as soles of feet.
DIAGNOSIS OF ROUGH CRACKED SKIN
The diagnosis is made by a healthcare professional based on the appearance of skin, any history of exposure to an allergen or irritating substance as well presence of other accompanying symptoms.
MANAGEMENT OF ROUGH CRACKED SKIN
Cracked and rough skin in most cases is due to cold and dry weather or after prolonged exposure to sun and can be managed using the following steps:-
- If the cracked skin is due to some allergen, then it is advisable to avoid contact with that allergen to prevent rough skin from reoccurring.
- Stress, smoking and scratching cracked skin can make symptoms worse, so one should avoid them.
- Using fragrance-free good quality detergents for clothes and soaps for the body is advisable.
- Keeping the rough skin well hydrated by using good quality fragrance-free moisturizers helps to improve the appearance of cracked skin.
- The affected area should be kept clean to prevent the chances of getting an infection.
- To avoid scarring of cracked and rough skin, one should keep the affected area well moisturized, avoid scratching the skin during the day and wear mittens to avoid scratching during sleep.
HOMEOPATHY FOR SKIN
Homeopathic treatment for rough and cracked skin is highly recommended as it is safe and effective. Best homeopathic medicine for rough and cracked skin is the one most similar to disease manifestation and includes symptoms from both mental and physical spheres.
Common homeopathic medicines for rough and cracked skin are:-
- ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM– It is suitable for dry skin with thick, hard honey-colored scabs that burn and itch most at night and from cold bathing.
- GRAPHITES– It is suitable for dry skin lesions that occur in folds of the body, especially behind the ears and nipples and exude sticky, clear or, yellowish fluid on scratching. In females, the lesions aggravate around their monthly period.
- PETROLEUM – It is suited for dry skin with redness, burning, itching and that cracks and bleed easily. This eczema tends to get worse in winters
- SULPHUR– It is suitable for dry, scaly skin with itching and burning that gets worse from scratching and washing. This itching gets worse from warmth, evening and damp weather. As a person, the patient is untidy, extroverted and enjoys a good argument. They are generally sensitive to heat and tend to have hot feet.