Dry skin is the result of the upper layer of skin, called the dermis, becoming dehydrated. You know you have dry skin when your skin gets that tight feeling after showering, bathing or swimming. The skin may feel rough to the touch and city. Flaking and peeling of the skin may also be an issue. The skin may actually crack and in worst case scenarios actually bleed.
Most skin is caused by exposure to dry air in the winter. Central heating can dry out the dermis as well. You might think that you are warming up and taking a hot shower but in the winter this can be a bad idea because you might actually be drying your skin out. The situation an also be made worse by using harsh soaps, deodorants, shampoos and detergents. Swimming in chlorinated water can also dry your skin out in the winter.
If you have dry skin you should make sure you are not dehydrated. Dehydration can be the result of being sick, drinking too much alcohol or having a fever. To help the surface of your skin try using a humidifier or vaporizer at night.
Thankfully you can do a lot to try and help your skin during long cold winter months. You can use moisturizers and avoid hot water. If it comes right down to it and the dry skin becomes a serious problem then a doctor can prescribe a cream that contains lactic acid and urea.
One way to prevent dry skin is to use moisturizers to act a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping. The cosmetics might also contain moisturizers. Oils like baby oil can also prevent the water from evaporating from skin by providing it with a protective layer.
It really can help to limit any shower to less than ten minutes. If you can stand it shower in colder water. Stay away from drying soaps and use gels with moisturizers instead.
The good news is the most dry skin conditions are temporary and can be remedied with the right care. Part of getting a handle on this problem is controlling your environment so that your skin does not dry out. You can do a lot on your own to improve dry skin and you should practice preventative measures all year long if you are older or are finding that you are becoming prone to developing dry skin. However if the problem is severe be sure to see a dermatologist.