Visit your local pharmacy this winter for dry skin

People in the Black Country are being reminded to make their local pharmacy the first port of call for dry skin this winter.

Dry skin can occur at any time of the year, but it can become more common as the weather becomes colder. It can appear at any age and, whilst it usually doesn’t present any serious problems, it can be associated with other medical conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, and psoriasis.

The skin is made up of many different layers and it forms a natural barrier to protect our body from the outside environment. To help protect the outer layer of the skin from losing water, the skin produces an oily substance called sebum. If the skin does not have enough sebum, it loses water which causes dry skin.

Common causes of dry skin include:

  • Excessive bathing
  • Showering, scrubbing the skin while washing, or harsh soaps that dissolve the protective layer of sebum
  • Environmental conditions that increase water loss, such as very hot, dry weather or central heating
  • Frequent exposure to wind and sun can evaporate water from the skin, making the surface feel itchy and dry
  • Decreased production of sebum, which is often a factor in the elderly.

To help reduce symptoms, emollients can be used to moisturise the skin. Emollients are moisturising treatments that are applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. There are various types of emollients that can be bought over the counter at your local pharmacy to reduce dryness, help with itching and soften cracks.

Stephen Noble, local pharmacist and Chief Officer of the Dudley Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said:

“Just like any other part of your body, your skin also needs to be looked after. Dry skin is a common condition for people of all ages, particularly during the winter when the skin is exposed to cold weather and lower levels of moisture in the air.

“Your local pharmacy should always be your first choice for help with dry skin. Pharmacists are highly trained experts in medicines, and they can offer you advice and treatments without you needing to see a GP.

“As well as getting the right medication from a local pharmacist, there are also lifestyle changes that can be made which can help to treat and prevent future outbreaks of dry skin. This includes stopping smoking, drinking plenty of water, reducing the length of your baths or showers, avoiding harsh soaps and bubble baths, and avoiding wearing synthetic materials for prolonged periods. Increasing humidity levels with a humidifier can also help as dry air increases the risk of dry skin.”

Patients registered with GP practices in the Black Country can also make use of the PharmacyFirst service. This service provides people who are exempt from prescription charges with free over-the-counter medicines, so they do not need to see a GP to receive the medication on prescription.

For more information on Pharmacy First and to find participating pharmacies, click here.

To find your nearest pharmacy and check opening times, visit here.