Tuesday, October 23

What are the Medical Causes of Dry Skin and How to Diagnose

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What are the Medical Causes of Dry Skin and How to Diagnose

Dry skin is a condition affecting many people . It may be just mild or it may be severe, leading to scaling, itching, and cracking of the skin. Any part of the body is affected, however hands, arms, legs are feet are more commonly involved. Some people have genetically dry skin throughout the year, however, some other factors also play a part. These include

– Using harsh soaps and hot water for bathing or more frequent bathing

– The hands and feet become drier in winter months

– As one ages the natural oils of the skin are decreased and the skin becomes drier

– Underlying medical causes- these are the most important and should be investigated in case of persistent dryness of the skin

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Medical Causes that may be the underlying cause of dry skin

General Medical Conditions

Dehydration– dehydration can cause dry skin and this may be the first sign. The dehydration may be physiological due to atmospheric heat or may be due to some pathological conditions like gastroenteritis or vomiting.

Hormonal Imbalance– The commonest cause of dry skin is Hypothyroidism. If the thyroid is not working well the skin becomes rough and dry along with brittle nails and hair

Malnutrition and deficiencies – deficiencies of Iron and vitamins such as B12, Biotin and Folic acid also cause dryness. Deficiency of Vitamin C may also cause dryness of skin

Diabetes Mellitus– Systemic conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus may also cause dryness of the skin and the mouth, especially if the sugars are high and the diabetes is uncontrolled

Autoimmune conditions such as SLE and Sjogren’s syndrome

Conditions Specific to the skin

Atopic dermatitis

Psoriasis

Ichthyosis Vulgaris are some of the skin conditions where the skin is hard scaly and
dry

Diagnosis and Investigations for Dry skin

1. Examination By A Physician or dermatologist– This is the first step where the examination by an expert is done

2. Complete Blood counts –The complete blood examination will give information if the patient is ANAEMIC

3. Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, and Biotin levels – The levels of these Vitamins can be estimated in the blood to establish if there is a deficiency of these vitamins

4. Iron studies – Levels of serum Iron and ferritin levels can be done to rule out the deficiency of any of these elements. The deficiency of these minerals may also cause dry hands

5. Thyroid Test  – The levels of the Thyroid hormones T3, T4, and TSH can be done in the lab. A deficiency of thyroid hormones can cause drying of the hair and skin

6. Thyroid Antibodies – These antibodies may be raised and may eventually lead to hypothyroidism thus causing the changes due to hypothyroidism on the skin and hair

7. Autoimmune Profile such as ANA, dsDNA etc can be done In the laboratory to rule out autoimmune conditions such as SLS and Sjogren’s syndrome. These conditions are usually associated with Dry Skin

8. Kidney Function Tests-Kidney Function test is important as they can give information about the kidneys and also give an indication regarding the patients state of hydration

 

Every part of the body gives us an indication regarding the health status of the body. Hence all the symptoms must be taken seriously and investigated for any underlying diseases.

 

 

 

 

 

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