What Are the Common Causes of Red Dry Skin?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 July 2019
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The most common causes of red dry skin are eczema and skin allergies. Other common causes include rosacea, psoriasis, and weather conditions. Treatment for these may vary, but often include anti-inflammatory medications and moisturizers.

Skin allergies can be triggered by many factors, and determining the specific allergen can be difficult. It may ultimately be necessary to consult with an allergist to determine the exact cause. Red dry skin that is allergy-related usually results from allergies to laundry detergent, soap, skin lotions, or makeup. In many cases, if the condition is allergy-related, it may be possible to link it to the use of a new product, however, that is not always the case. It is possible to develop a sudden allergy to substances that previously caused no allergic reaction. Allergy-related skin conditions are usually treated with anti-allergens administered orally or as a topical medication.

Eczema is a skin condition also caused by a severe reaction to allergens, but once eczema develops, it is considered to have more long-term consequences than common allergic reactions. In some cases, minor instances of red dry skin can escalate in severity, resulting in blisters or leathery patches on the skin. Some research seems to indicate that the condition may be genetic, as it often tends to run in families. Treatment for eczema includes antihistamines, cold compresses, and fragrance-free moisturizers.


Psoriasis is a chronic disease that affects the cells of the skin. Normally, skin cells are shed as they grow old and are replaced by new cell growth. For those who suffer from psoriasis, skin cells are not shed, but rather build up on the surface of the skin, resulting in scaly patches that are dry and irritated. Psoriasis is usually treated by using steroids, vitamin D, or topical retinoids.

Rosacea is a skin condition that most often affects the face, though it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, people who suffer from rosacea are fair skinned, and the condition is much more common in women than men. Many people who suffer from rosacea do not even realize it, because the condition often looks very much like acne. There is no known cure for rosacea, but in some cases, antibiotics or laser light therapy can help reduce the redness of the skin.

Some cases of red dry skin are the result of nothing more serious than weather conditions. People who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in dry climates, may suffer from skin irritation. Extreme cold and wind exposure can also contribute to dry, irritated skin. In many cases, using moisturizers can help reduce the effects of weather exposure on skin.



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