Many people deal with dry skin, at least seasonally or on occasion. Often, drinking more water and applying a good lotion takes care of the problem or at least keeps it under control. However, it is important not to write off your dry skin immediately. Sometimes, it is not just an everyday, ordinary annoyance but a sign of a more sinister problem that could benefit from a dermatologist's attention. If any of the following rings true for you as a person with dry skin, the problem might be bigger than you've been assuming.
Your skin is falling off in big flakes.
Flakiness and dry skin often go hand-in-hand. However, if the flakes coming off of your dry skin are larger than, say, the average breadcrumb, you may actually be dealing with psoriasis or eczema, rather than a simple case of dry skin. Both psoriasis and eczema affect the rate at which dead skin cells are shed, causing the skin cells to fall off in clumps rather than a few at a time. There are good medications to manage both conditions, and it's best to seek treatment early while symptoms are still mild.
Your skin is really itchy.
With dry skin, you may experience a little mild itching from time to time, but it should not occupy your very thought or keep you from enjoying life, and it should mostly go away when you apply lotion. More persistent itchiness could actually mean you have an infection, either fungal or bacterial, that is contributing to the dryness. Most skin infections are easily treated with either antibiotics or an anti-fungal cream, so you should see a dermatologist for treatment.
Your skin looks thin and crackled.
Does your skin appear to be thinned near the surface to the point that it is almost translucent? If this is accompanied by a cracked or crackled look that reminds you of an old parking lot, then you may be dealing with a bigger problem like psoriasis, eczema, or even an autoimmune disorder that has begun to affect your skin. With ordinary cases of dry skin, the skin looks more or less normal other than being a little white, dry, and flaky on top.
If your dry skin ever starts to seem more like an encumbrance than a mild annoyance, see a dermatologist. It's possible they'll say it's just dry skin, but even then, they'll likely send you home with a lotion or cream that takes good care of it. Contact a dermatology clinic like Desert Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists to learn more.