Ashy Skin Treatments
What Causes Ashy Skin?
In normal conditions, the body will produce new skin cells that move towards the surface of the skin. The new skin cells will push away the old cells during the body’s natural exfoliation process. Dry skin can occur when the dead skin cells do not fall away from the skin. Instead, they build up and cause the skin to appear ashy, scaly or flaky.
Ashy skin can be the result of one or a combination of internal and external factors. Because of this, it can sometimes be challenging to determine the exact cause of the dryness.
Many instances of ashy skin are due to external, environmental factors, including:
- Dry Air: In geographies with low humidity, the skin can quickly become dehydrated. Many people experience ashy skin in the cold winter months. During this time of year, the air is especially dry, and people tend to spend more time in indoor heat. Dehydration can also occur in hot, arid places with very low humidity.
- Harsh Products: Sometimes, products that are meant to help our skin can actually dry it out. Lotions, soaps, body washes and body scrubs that contain alcohol, detergents or other harsh chemicals are a common cause of dryness in the skin.
- Hot Water: Taking long, hot showers can strip the skin of moisture and natural oils. Exposure to hot water for long periods, like when in a hot tub, can also leave skin feeling dry, tight and itchy.
- Sunlight: The sun causes the moisture in the skin to evaporate at a higher rate, creating a dehydrated state. When the skin is dehydrated, it can appear flaky and ashy.
Other Potential Causes of Ashy Skin
Internal factors can also create conditions that lead to dry, ashy skin. Hydrated skin is healthy skin. When a person does not provide the body with the moisture it needs through the intake of water and food, they are more likely to experience ashy skin. Some medications have also been shown to contribute to dry skin. Diuretics, medicines that increase the amount of water that is released from the body, can cause the skin to dry out and take on an ashy appearance. Ashy skin can also be a symptom of other skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Treating Dry, Ashy Skin
Preventing ashy skin before it happens can save you a great deal of time and aggravation. However, if you are already experiencing ashy skin, do not wait to start a treatment plan. The tips below will help to maintain the proper levels of hydration within the body and keep the skin moisturized.
- Use mild skin cleansers, soaps and scrubs
- Bathe in warm water and limit showers and baths to less than 10 minutes
- Immediately after bathing, pat your skin dry and moisturize with a gentle emollient cream or ointment
- Use a gentle exfoliation method once or twice a week to remove the build-up of dead skin cells
- Be sure to drink adequate amounts of water based on your body weight
- If you live in a dry environment, purchase a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air
For people with very severe cases of dry skin, it is recommended that they contact a board-certified dermatologist to determine if the condition is associated with an underlying health issue. A dermatologist may also be able to prescribe a more aggressive treatment plan than simply at-home care or lifestyle changes.