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How to treat dry skin, rough skin, red skin & more

Siski Green / 12 October 2015 ( 15 March 2021 )

Dry and flaky, yellow bumps, or greasy or blotchy - your skin says a lot about your overall health. Find out what it's trying to tell you.

Bars of soap
If you use a soap or cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin type, it strips your skin of its oils, launching it into a protective outburst where it produces lots of oil.

Sandpaper-dry skin

Winter, or more specifically, overheating indoor spaces, is often the trigger for dry skin. Cold air can be very dry too and wind will exacerbate the problem by causing more moisture to evaporate from the surface of your skin.

Keep an eye on the moisture content of air and if you notice that your skin feels noticeably drier on days when the humidity index is below comfort level (under 50%) then adjust your moisture routine accordingly.

Increase the number of times you use a moisturising face mask, and use a sealing moisturiser (an emollient) while or just after having a warm shower (not too hot, otherwise it’ll just dry your skin even more). You can buy specially formulated emollients, but coconut oil or even Vaseline work in a similar way, by sealing in moisture.

If your indoor air is particularly dry, you can invest in a humidifier which will help keep your skin feeling good all winter long.

Discover more tips for winter health

Teenager-style spot break-outs

Acne break-outs in the over-50s aren’t as rare as you might think.

As spikes in cortisol levels can trigger acne or spots, older people who go through a trauma such as divorce or a death in the family might also endure a bout of erupting spots on their face too.

The best cure for these outbreaks is to try and reduce stress in the first place, by getting good rest, practising yoga, talking to friends and family or, if necessary, seeing a therapist.

To address spots that have already appeared, use a spot cream containing witch hazel. This natural substance helps reduce inflammation, and so makes your spots look less red making them easier to cover up with make-up.

Find out how stress can affect your health

Rough-to-touch skin patches

Stress is often the cause of these red and slightly uneven-feeling patches on your skin. While suffering something like this temporarily is nothing to worry about, if you notice these patches recurring it could be that you have psoriasis. There are different types of psoriasis, including plaque psoriasis, the most common type, nail psoriasis, and inverse psoriasis, which creates red, sore skin in places where you have skin in contact with skin – behind your knees, for instance.

Psoriasis is a skin condition where skin cells aren’t shed as they usually are, leading to a build up of dead skin cells, redness and itchiness in the affected area. There is no cure but there are many treatments, such as creams and sun exposure, which help reduce symptoms.

Find out more about psoriasis symptoms and treatments

Slick and oily skin

While some natural oils on your skin are essential for keeping it moist and supple, sometimes the body goes overboard and produces too much, leaving your skin slick and shiny looking and oily to the touch. This can be the result of hormonal changes, genetics (some people are more prone to it than others) and also stress.

You can be exacerbating the symptoms without realising you’re doing it. For instance, when you touch your face a lot (when pressing your mobile phone against your face for a long time!) and, surprisingly, soap.

If you use a soap or cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin type, it strips your skin of its oils, launching it into a protective outburst where it produces lots of oil to replace what’s been lost.

Try applying a specially-formulated oil daily (such as Dr Hauschka’s Clarifying Day oil for greasy, combination skin) which will help maintain healthy and non-greasy looking levels of skin oils.

What's in your moisturiser and how does it work?

Red and blotchy skin

Rosacea is a skin condition typified by redness in the face that comes and goes, and appears to be brought on by triggers such as drinking alcohol, caffeine or stress. If, however, your red blotchy patches are new or temporary there are other, more likely causes.

Had any new treatments at the spa lately? Exfoliating and other skin-rejuvenating treatments such as skin peels can temporarily cause blotchiness. This is simply because the skin is working hard to regenerate skin cells where they have been removed. Next time, try a less harsh treatment.

If that’s not the cause, it could be that you’re sensitive to substances in a perfume or other product you’re using. Try using a different product for a while and see if that solves the problem.

Other lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol can also cause you to get an embarrassing glow to your cheeks – it’s not necessarily that you’ve drunk too much but simply your body responding to the alcohol by opening up your blood vessels allowing more blood to the skin’s surface.

Yellow bumps on skin

If these appear on your arms or upper body, you’d be wise to get yourself checked for diabetes. Rash-like bumps that are yellow can be an indicator that you’re diabetic or that you have high triglyceride levels. The bumps are the result of high cholesterol levels.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to adjust your diet and exercise regime so quantities of cholesterol get back down to normal, healthy levels.

Find out more about cholesterol and its effect on your health

Need to talk to a GP from the comfort of your own home? Saga Health Insurance customers can talk to a qualified, practising UK GP 24 hours a day by phone. Find out more about our GP service.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.