Dry skin is a category of skin type and some people are born with it, but that doesn’t mean other skin types never experience dryness. In fact, humans can develop dry skin during any stage of their lives and on any part of their body. While sudden dryness is usually a result of an external factor or an underlying issue, it can be pretty annoying, especially when it occurs in the form of dry patches on the face. In most cases, this problem can be addressed with the use of natural oils like coconut, jojoba, argan and almond or even moisturisers.

But what exactly causes this and is there any way to prevent dry patches on the face? We know you have a lot of questions, therefore, we consulted Mumbai based dermatologist, Dr. Niketa Sonavane of Ambrosia Aesthetics, to understand this common problem better.


What are the causes of dry patches on the face?

Causes of dry patches on the face

We started off by asking what are the causes of dry patches on the face, are they always hereditary, weather-related or is there more to it? Dr. Sonavane believes the causes can be external and sometimes due to pre-existing skin conditions, here’s what she has to say:

External factors:

  • Age

As you grow older, your skin naturally produces less oil. This is the main reason why the oiliness of your skin reduces as you age and the dryness increases.

  • Weather

Dry air and low humidity, such as in winter, draws out moisture from your skin. This is also the reason why your skin is always dry in arid desert regions.

  • Air conditioning and heating

Central heating, fireplaces and air conditioners reduce humidity and dry your skin out. Regular application of moisturisers or a quick spritz of face mists can prevent this.

  • Hot baths and showers

Indulgent, long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin. It is best to shower with lukewarm water. Swimming regularly in chlorinated pools can be extremely drying on the skin.

  • Skin care products

Face washes containing sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS can strip your skin dry. Also, overuse of active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids such as glycolic and salicylic acids can compromise the protective barrier function of the skin and lead to dryness as well as irritation.

  • Medication

Prescription drugs used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acne and allergies can cause dry skin patches all over the body.


Medical skin conditions

Medical skin conditions

  • Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis develops when something touches your skin and causes inflammation in the area of contact. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs because of an irritating chemical agent, such as bleach. Allergic contact dermatitis develops when your skin comes in contact with something that you are allergic to, such as nickel in fashion jewelry.

  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis occurs when your skin produces too much oil. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast and results in a red and scaly rash. This condition is more common in the beard area in men.

  • Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is also known as atopic eczema. It is a skin condition that causes dry, red patches to appear on your skin. It is common amongst young children and mostly affects the cheek area.

Other conditions such as psoriasis, ichthyosis, type 2 diabetes and thyroid disease can also cause dry patches on the face as well as body.


How to prevent dry patches on the face?

How to prevent dry patches on the face?

Now that we have learned the causes of dry patches on the face, let’s also understand ways to prevent this problem. Because let’s admit it, no one likes walking around with dry patches on the face, especially if we have to wear makeup. Here are Dr. Sonavane’s top tips to prevent face dryness.


- Moisturise


Moisturise several times a day if needed. Apply moisturiser on damp skin rather than dry skin. This will seal the moisture into your skin more effectively and keep it nourished for a long time.


- Wash less often

Wash less often

You can have a bath once or twice a day, but make sure to keep it as cool as possible and as short as possible. A warm shower of around 10 minutes is ideal. Also, wash your face less frequently. Try gentle micellar water for more frequent cleansing.


- Skip drying soaps

Skip drying soaps

Avoid soap bars and harsh cleansing gels. Cleansing creams, gentle cleansers and cleansing balms are perfect if you have dry patches on the face.


- Natural fabric

Natural fabric

Your skin will thank you for switching to natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk. Avoid woolen mufflers and scarves, as they can severely irritate dry skin. Cotton or hosiery face masks are ideal for you in the pandemic era.


- Gentle skincare

Gentle skincare

Dry skin or skin that is prone to dry patches does not tolerate active ingredients in skin care products. Focus more on the moisturiser, sunscreen and use only a single active ingredient such as a vitamin C serum. Make sure you do a patch test before applying on the face and use the product on alternate days initially.


How to treat dry patches on the face?

How to treat dry patches on the face?

Next, we asked Dr. Sonavane how to treat these dry patches on the face. Yes, moisturisers and oils are the most common solution, but there are a few other natural treatments that can prevent this problem. Here are some of the best ways to treat dry patches on the face according to Dr. Sonavane:

i) Oatmeal bath

Oats have avenanthramides that fight inflammation and redness. Grind some oats in a mixer or blender to make a very fine powder. Then slowly sprinkle it into the tub or bucket of water while it is still filling. Use this water for soaking, bathing or washing your face everyday along with a hydrating cleanser to get rid of dry patches on the face.

ii) Coconut oil

Coconut oil has essential fatty acids that help in skin protection and healing. Coconut oil is also proven to penetrate the skin deeper than any other oil. Adding ghee and coconut oil to your diet can also reduce inflammation and boost healing.

iii) Moisturiser

The key to successfully managing dry and irritated skin is to moisturise frequently, it can go up to four times a day if needed. Always apply moisturiser on damp skin and use a heavier moisturiser if the weather is particularly drying. But watch out for dull skin and acne from overuse of butter and petroleum products.

iv) Oral ceramides

Ceramides are fatty acids or lipids that are naturally found in skin cells. They lock moisture into your skin, thus preventing dryness and irritation. Dry and mature skin has lesser ceramides and therefore a poorer barrier function. Supplementing with ceramide supplements may reduce your skin’s dryness to a great extent.

v) Sugar, dairy and gluten

Many people are increasingly noticing that their dry skin flares up with certain foods such as cow’s milk, bread, eggs, etc. You can try avoiding these in your diet for two weeks at a time and check for a positive response in your skin’s condition. Such an 'elimination diet' can give you a clear insight into your food triggers.

vi) Medical treatment

If all else fails or you have been battling dry skin for a while, then it may be time to visit a dermatologist. You may be prescribed oral antihistamines, oral and topical steroids and topical immuno-modulators to calm down dry and hyper-reactive skin. You may need an allergy test, amongst other tests to rule out medical causes for your dry skin.