In Sponsored education
Skin hydration for the nation
Personalising advice for customers
- Understand the common causes of dry skin conditions
- Be able to recommend appropriate emollient products for customers with different dry skin conditions
- Know what self-care advice you can provide to your customers
- Dry skin1,2
Dry skin is a common condition caused by water loss from the outer layer of the skin. Causes include: central heating and wood-burning stoves; living in cold, windy conditions or low-humidity climates; taking long, hot showers or baths or scrubbing the skin too much; or using harsh soaps and detergents.
Dry skin has been identified as a self-limiting condition for which products should not routinely be prescribed. As a result, customers are likely to seek advice and product recommendations from the pharmacy to help manage their symptoms.
In the UK, 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults have eczema. Eczema is a dry skin condition where the skin is unable to retain much water. A person with eczema has a weakened skin barrier causing gaps to appear between the skin cells as they are not plumped with water. Everyday substances like soap, bubble bath and washing liquid can break down the skin more easily, leaving it irritated, cracked and inflamed.
Psoriasis is thought to affect between 2-3% of the UK population. It is an immune condition where the skin replacement process speeds up, meaning that skin cells are replaced within a few days instead of the usual 21-28 days. Some people may have a family history of the condition but this is not always the case. A flare-up can be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, anxiety, injury to the skin, hormonal changes, or certain infections or medications.
Covid-19 and dry skin5
During the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been advised to wash their hands regularly using soap and water. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of infection. However, for people with dry skin conditions, frequent washing can trigger skin damage and exacerbate symptoms. Even people with healthy skin may find that using harsh soaps and alcohol-based hand sanitisers can dry out the hands, causing irritation.
As well as washing hands regularly, it is also important to moisturise; if the skin's outer barrier layer becomes compromised, and hence cracked or irritated, this can increase the susceptibility to irritants and infection.
Anyone can develop dry skin; however, people are more likely to develop dry skin if they:1
- Are over 40; as people age, the skin becomes thinner and its ability to retain moisture diminishes
- Have a job where they are regularly immersing their hands in water, such as nursing or hairdressing
- Use their hands to work with soil, clay or cement
- Swim frequently in chlorinated pools
- Have certain medical conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.