Hong Kong winters can wreak havoc on our skin. The drop in temperature and humidity brings great weather to explore the trails and playgrounds of the city, but with it, dry and irritated skin. Moisture is essential in your skin to maintain its function as a strong protective barrier.
Dry skin is not usually a serious condition and it is often caused by environmental factors: low humidity outside, a lot of time inside exposed to indoor air, bathing too often with hot water, use of harsh soaps and several more serious causes.
Some people may have an underlying condition such as eczema or psoriasis that causes them to be prone to dry skin. Eczema occurs because of a hyper-sensitivity to certain irritants such as soaps, detergents, dyes, fabrics, and others. As for psoriasis, it is an autoimmune disease that causes an over-production and buildup of skin cells in patches.
Most people are quite familiar with the symptoms of mild dry skin. It’s dry to the touch and can be a bit dull and scaly-looking and feel tight and itchy. If skin is very dry, it becomes very delicate and can be red, irritated and even break into painful fissures.
Eczema and psoriasis are both conditions that can cause patches of extremely dry skin. Eczema present in dry, red patches in creases of skin (behind the knees, inside of elbows), or on the face, neck, hands or feet whereas psoriasis present on the scalp, shin, lower back, outer aspect of elbow and in front of knees. Eczema is the most common of the two and is usually itchy but not often painful. In someone with psoriasis, the excess skin cells produced build up into silvery-white scales and are painful, inflamed, itchy and red.
Dry skin is easily preventable and almost everyone will experience it at some point. We spoke to dermatologist Dr. Shiao Yi Wong from OT&P to suggest some changes you can make to stave off winter dryness:
Dry skin is not a serious condition in itself, though it may be uncomfortable and possibly unsightly. It is usually very easily managed with regular treatment at home. If any of the following occur, Dr. Shiao Yi Wong recommends seeing a doctor, as they could be signs of something more serious:
Dr. Shiao Yi Wong 黃曉毅醫生 was born in Montreal, Canada and raised in Hong Kong. Dr. Wong studied medicine at the University of Hong Kong and completed her internal medicine and dermatology training at Queen Mary Hospital and the Department of Health in Hong Kong. She practices at OT&P’s Central Specialist clinic and her key areas of professional interest include clinical adult and pediatric dermatology. Dr. Wong is fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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