When your skin feels tight, it likely means that your skin is too dry. One of both of these may be happening:
- Changes in humidity: Xeroderma or xerosis, which is the medical term for extremely dry skin, is a common condition that occurs during dry months. When your skin loses moisture and lack of humidity disrupts its natural barrier, it can feel tight and start to crack or peel.
- Washing too frequently or with harsh soaps: Washing too often or using harsh soaps that strip the skin of moisture can also cause dry, tight, itchy skin.
Although dry skin is often a temporary condition, it can also cause discomfort, itchiness, and inflammation. And if not properly treated, it can even result in breaks or cracks in the skin or lead to infections.
What causes xerosis?
Xerosis occurs when the skin loses more moisture than it retains, leaving the skin dried out.
Your skin contains sebaceous glands—small glands that create natural oil called sebum. Sebum helps keep the skin lubricated and moisturized by sealing moisture in. Moreover, it plays a role in waterproofing the skin and, along with sweat, regulating body temperature.
Within the stratum corneum layer of the skin, there are many different substances that keep the skin moisturized, including ceramides, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, urea, and amino acids. Altogether, these substances are often referred to as the natural moisture factor (NMF). Sebum production slows down with age, and the skin is unable to produce enough substances that make up the skin's NMF. This is why so many people develop xerosis as they age.
Various risk factors that are linked to xerosis include:
- Weather: Extreme hot and cold weather can cause dry skin because of low humidity, which causes moisture to be sucked from the skin.
- Bathing habits: Bathing often using water that is too hot and soaps that are too stripping can cause dry skin.
- Certain medications: Some medications can cause dryness of the skin, including diuretics, certain cholesterol medications, and most acne medications.
- Health problems: People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or diseases such as hypothyroidism or diabetes are prone to develop dry skin. Diabetes especially can cause xerosis of the feet.
What are signs and symptoms of xerosis?
- Dry, itchy, scaly skin, specifically on the arms and legs
- Skin that feels extremely tight
- Moderate flaky skin
- Red or pink irritated skin
- Fine cracks in the skin
How is xerosis treated?
Treating xerosis is crucial for keeping the skin healthy and increasing its ability to protect itself against infections and diseases. Common methods to prevent xerosis include using:
- Hydrating moisturizers, especially those that contains urea, ceramides, and lactic acid
- Topical steroids (in areas of inflammation)
Eliminate ingredients that dry out the skin and avoid products that contain these ingredients:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Alpha-hydroxy acid
- Added fragrances
Latest Skin News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Does It Mean When Your Skin Feels Tight Related Articles
How Do You Tell if You Have Athlete’s Foot or Dry Skin?Learn about the differences between athlete’s foot and dry skin, what causes these conditions, the different symptoms to watch for, and how they’re treated.
Dry SkinDry skin (xeroderma) may be caused by external factors, like cold temperatures, low humidity, harsh soaps, and certain medications, or internal factors, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, psoriasis, or Sjogren's syndrome. Symptoms and signs of dry skin include itching and red, cracked or flaky skin. The main treatment for dry skin is frequent, daily lubrication of the skin.
Dry Skin QuizDry, itching, flaky skin? Take the Dry Skin Quiz to learn what's causing your dry skin and what you can do about it beyond lotions and creams.
How Can I Make My Skin Tighter?Most people experience sagging skin between the ages of 35 and 40 years old. As we age, the production of proteins that are responsible for keeping our skin plump, firm and smooth (collagen and elastin) declines gradually, resulting in sagging skin on the face, neck and body. Some of the natural or home remedies to firm the skin include facial exercise, application of topical products and doctor prescribed interventions.
See How Your Life Affects Your SkinSee how your life affects your skin. The choices you make every day affect the appearance of your skin. Learn how to avoid dry skin and wrinkles and to keep your skin healthy with these helpful beauty tips.
Skin QuizWhat's that all over you? Skin, of course! Test your knowledge of your most amazing organ with the Skin Quiz!
What Can I Use for Dry Cracked Feet?The skin of your feet does not have oil-producing glands, called sebaceous glands. Because of this and because they carry your bodyweight, your feet are more vulnerable to problems such as dryness and cracking of the skin. Treat dry cracked feet with moisturizer, scrubs, ointment, Epsom salt, staying hydrated and other measures.
What Happens When You Get a Body Wrap?People use body wraps for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include helping your body get rid of unhealthy toxins, excess fluids, and dead skin. Different types of body wrap target different goals and unique types of skin.
What Is the Best Natural Remedy for Cracked Heels?Cracked heels are a common cosmetic concern. The skin around the heels is drier and thicker than in other areas of the body. It gets worse during the winter months and results in the development of cracked heels.
Xerosis PictureAbnormal dryness of the skin (xeroderma), of the conjunctiva of the eye (xerophthalmia), or of the mucous membranes such as dry mouth (xerostomia). See a picture of Xerosis and learn more about the health topic.