We all get dry skin from time to time: red blotches, unsightly flakes, even on our scalp. But if regular applications of lotion or dandruff shampoo aren’t improving the condition, it may be time to seek your primary care provider’s advice. This is especially true if red patches are persistently itchy, or worse, the condition starts to spread to other areas on your skin, the flare-up in full swing.
Itchy, dry skin can result from any number of underlying causes, ranging from allergic reactions to food or skin care products to more inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, the most common.
Your provider can help figure out which skin condition is troubling you and prescribe the right treatments to get it under control.
According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans suffer from some form of eczema, an inflammatory skin condition that causes rashes, dry skin, itchiness, blisters, even skin infections, usually caused by excessive scratching. Itchiness is always present in eczema.
The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, caused by an overactive immune system that dries out the skin barrier and causes redness. Eczema is usually hereditary, with a genetic component. Environmental factors, such as stress, and exposure to common household items can trigger a flare-up.
There is no cure for eczema, but with your provider’s advice, your course of treatment will get your skin to calm down.
Also driven by an overactive immune system, psoriasis differs from eczema in that it causes the skin cells to multiply quickly, forming scaly, red patches. These patches can become inflamed and painful. Genetics and environmental factors have their role in shaping this chronic condition, too, but it is mainly an immune-triggered disease, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common kind, usually presenting in a symmetrical pattern on the body, including elbows, knees and the scalp. Over time, psoriasis can also cause painful psoriatic arthritis, so seeing your primary care provider for proper management of psoriasis flare-ups can help you avoid further complications down the road.
Make that appointment with your provider today.