Dry skin conditions - a very common problem

Author: GlycaNova AS

Date: Jun 2019

Dry skin is a major symptom in many skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema/dermatitis and ichthyosis. In the UK, each year, 24 percent of people seek medical advice for skin conditions1. However, 30 percent of people with mild and moderate skin conditions self-medicate1. The incidence of dry skin conditions is rising, 20 percent of children and 10 percent of adults have eczema, 2-3 percent have psoriasis and ichthyosis affects one in 250 people1. People over the age of 60 years develop dry skin as a result of the ageing process and, if left untreated, eczema can develop, especially if the person has a history of atopic eczema2. Ganodex has been developed to help manage dry skin from each of these issues.

Dry skin is generally aggravated by environmental factors (including over-washing, use of soap and detergents and exposure to low-humidity), other medical conditions, some medications, following injury or infection3. Other common triggers for psoriasis may include hormonal changes and stress or anxiety.

Eczema and psoriasis are separate skin conditions, most people have either eczema or psoriasis but a small number of people have both. They are both skin conditions with defects in the immune system and skin barrier; but the immune pathways are different. Eczema affects the skin barrier (startum corneum), as the skin is not able to produce as many fats and oils which results in being less able to retain water. This means the skin, as a protective barrier is compromised, and gaps open up between the skin cells and moisture is lost through the skin from the deeper skin layers. This means that bacteria, irritants and allergens are able to pass through the skin, which irritates the skin and causes eczema to flare. Psoriasis has the opposite effect on the stratum corneum, causing thickening, as the skin replacement process speeds up, taking just a few days to replace skin cells that usually take 21-28 days. This accumulation of skin cells builds up to form raised ‘plaques’ on the skin, which can also be flaky, scaly, red on Caucasian skin, darker patches on darker skin tones. Eczema and psoriasis can both affect any part of the body, classically eczema is seen on skin creases and psoriasis on outer parts of skin (i.e. elbows, knees, the scalp and lower back), both conditions are itchy.

Dry skin needs to be self-managed and treated to prevent skin conditions or reduce the symptoms of skin conditions. Dry skin is a significant symptom, and is the main and constant symptom of eczema/dermatitis, psoriasis and ichthyosis. Dry skin will always be itchy, which will be scratched and damaged, resulting in red skin (a flare) and then constant scratching leads to damage, resulting in broken skin that becomes wet and weepy due to infection. This is known as the itch-scratch-damage cycle—the first point at stopping this cycle from developing is to keep skin well moisturised to prevent dry and itchy skin. The appearance of dry, flaky and scaly skin is unsightly, and the itch, discomfort plus embarrassment can affect quality of life for many people3.

Treating dry skin is key to the prevention and management of common skin conditions. The skin creams used for dry skin are generally emollients. If a dry skin condition flares, topical steroid creams and ointments in varying strengths, are usually recommended for short-term use confined to the specific area of skin that requires treatment. Steroids are generally prescription-only in the UK and should not be used continuously, as long-term use may cause complications such as thinning skin. Therefore, managing dry-skin optimally is with longer-term use of emollients, which can be bought online or from pharmacies and/or prescribed by health care professionals.

Emollients are the first line therapy for preventing and treating dry skin. Natural formulations like Ganodex may be preferred. An emollient is a moisturising treatment applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. There are different types of emollients. Leave-on emollients come in a variety of formulations including lotions, creams, gel and ointments. Alternatively, emollient wash products act as soap substitutes4. Not all emollients are the same, a simple emollient leaves an occlusive film on the skin reducing loss of water from the top layer of the skin (stratum corneum). A simple emollient, which is a cream or lotion, will have a short-lasting effect, so two-three hour applications may be necessary to rehydrate skin, whereas an ointment will be longer lasting, around six hours but will be greasy and messy to use. Emollients formulated with additional ingredients, provide occlusion and humectant properties, which are longer lasting and cosmetically acceptable.

There are many emollients available. People with dry skin should have the opportunity to make a choice of the most suitable emollient for their skin.
An emollient with added ingredients to address all symptoms of dry skin is a good choice. A humectant formulation will help hold water in the skin cells, and compensate for loss of natural moisturising factors seen in common skin conditions and older skin as well as occluding and preventing water loss from skin. Common humectant ingredients to look for in emollients include honey and glycerin, which are in Ganodex, and also urea. Humectant-containing products can produce greater barrier repair per gram than an emollient without humectants. This has implications for cosmetic acceptability, patient adherence and overall treatment costs3.

Patients, particularly those who manage their condition themselves, should seek support and information from trained nurses, patient support groups and community pharmacists, including the mypsoriasis support programme that talkhealth is pioneering and that Ganodex is pleased to support.

Ganodex is an effective cosmetic cream with natural ingredients that is proven to provide relief from itchy, irritated, and scaly skin helping to break the itch-scratch cycle and facilitating natural healing. Customers describe their improved confidence as they bring out the best in their skin. Based on feedback and trial data over several years5, 85% of Ganodex testers or users reported an improvement in their psoriasis, and an even higher proportion with their eczema. The cream is quickly absorbed, has humectant honey, and is non-greasy after application.

Ganodex can be purchased from, and more information found, at https://ganodex.com/en

References

1. Schofield J, Grindlay D, Williams H. Skin Conditions in the UK: a Health Care Needs Assessment. Nottingham. Centre of Evidence‐Based Dermatology, University of Nottingham. 2009; 6: 85-88.

2. Paul C, Maumus-Robert S, Mazereeuw-Hautier J, Guyen CN, Saudez X, Schmitt AM. Prevalence and risk factors for xerosis in the elderly: a cross-sectional epidemiological study in primary care. 2011;223(3):260-5

3 Moncrieff G, Cork M, Lawton S et al. use of emollients in dry-skin conditions: consensus statement. 2013. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology; 38(3):231-8.

4. NHS Choices. Emollients. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/emollients/ [accessed 26 Jan 2018]

5. GlycaNova data on file (2013-2017) including dermatologist studies and talkhealth 2017 reviews.

Information contained in this Articles page which doesn’t state it has been written by talkhealth, has been written by a third party, who has not paid to be on the talkhealth platform, and has been republished with their permission. talkhealth cannot vouch for or verify any claims made by the author, and we do not endorse any specific products, brands, or treatments mentioned. The content in our Articles pages should not be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine.

Last revised: 10 June 2019

Next review: 7 March 2020