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Xerosis (Dry Skin): Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Oct 09, 2023

Xerosis (Dry Skin): Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Dry skin has a rough, itchy, flaky, or scaly feel and appearance. These dry patches appear differently for every person. It is a widespread illness that may affect anyone at any age.

Dry skin, also known as xerosis or xeroderma, can be caused by a variety of things, including cold or dry weather, sun damage, abrasive soaps, and excessive washing.

You can take care of dry skin on your own by using moisturizer and UV protection all year long, among other self-care measures. By experimenting with different treatments and products, you might find a skin care method that works for you.

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Causes Of Dry Skin

Dry skin is a result of water loss from the epidermis. It might be caused by:

  • Heat: Humidity is reduced through central heating, wood stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces.
  • Environment: Inhabiting areas that are cold, windy, or dry.
  • Excessive bathing or cleaning: Drying your skin out are long, hot showers or baths, as well as over-scrubbing. Taking more than one bath every day could potentially wash away the skin's natural oils.
  • Aggressive soaps and detergents: Many commonly used soaps, detergents, and shampoos dry up your skin because they are meant to remove oil.
  • Various skin conditions: Two skin conditions that are more prevalent in people with dry skin are eczema and psoriasis.
  • Medicinal interventions: Some individuals have thick, dry skin after receiving dialysis, undergoing cancer therapy, or taking specific medications.
  • Aging: As people age, their skin gets thinner, and the production of the oils needed for water retention decreases.

Symptoms Of Dry Skin

For instance, you might just feel dry skin in the winter or you might need long-term treatment. Seasonal or sporadic dry skin is common. Depending on your age, health, skin tone, environment at home, and sun exposure, the typical signs and symptoms of dry skin may change. They consist of:

  • A tightening of the skin
  • Rough-feeling and -looking skin
  • Inflammation (pruritus)
  • Skin that is prone to mild to severe flaking, can give dry brown and black skin an ashy appearance.
  • Scaling or peeling that varies in severity
  • The leg has a cracked, "dry riverbed" appearance.
  • Cracks or fine lines
  • Skin that ranges in color from reddish on white skin to gray on dark and black skin 
  •  Deep cracks that could bleed

Risk Factors Of Dry Skin

Anyone can develop dry skin. The following elements, however, raise your risk for the condition:

  • Are older than 40, as aging causes a decrease in the skin's capacity to retain moisture
  • Reside in areas with low humidity or in cold, windy environments
  • Have an occupation where you must put your hands in water, such as hairstyling or nursing
  • When working with cement, clay, or soil, use your hands.
  • Frequent use of chlorinated pools
  • Possess specific conditions or diseases, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or malnutrition

Diagnosis Of Dry Skin

In order to determine whether you have dry skin, your doctor will likely examine you and ask about your medical history. You could talk about the onset of your dry skin, what influences make it better or worse, your bathing routine, and how you take care of your skin.

In order to determine whether a medical problem, such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), is the source of your dry skin, your doctor may advise you to undergo several tests.Dry skin is frequently an indication of another skin condition, such as psoriasis or dermatitis.

Treatment Of Dry Skin

Using moisturizers and avoiding taking long, hot baths and showers are two lifestyle changes that can help dry skin. Your doctor might suggest a moisturizing cream designed for your needs if you have really dry skin.

If you have a serious skin condition, your doctor could advise using a prescription cream or ointment. If your dry skin starts to itch, you could apply a lotion that contains hydrocortisone. If your skin cracks open, your doctor could advise wet dressings to help prevent infection.

Prevention Of Dry Skin

If you want to keep the moisture in your skin, try these tips:

  • Moisturize: To maintain the protective layer of your skin healthy, moisturizer helps lock in water. All day long, moisturize, paying special attention to your hands. Also, even on overcast days, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before heading outside. Every two hours, or more frequently if you're swimming or perspiring, thoroughly apply sunscreen and reapply it.
  • Limit your exposure to water: Don't spend more than ten minutes in the shower and bath. Make use of warm, not hot, water. Rinse and pat yourself dry. Limit your bathing to once daily at most.
  • Use a mild cleanser or soap that doesn't contain any allergens: Consider using a shower gel or washing cream without soap. Alternately, use hypoallergenic soap, a moisturizing soap without alcohol or ingredients that cause allergies, especially if you wash your hands frequently. Rinse thoroughly, then pat yourself dry. Apply moisturizing cream on damp skin.
  • Take care when shaving: It may be drying to shave. Use a lubricant before shaving if you do. If it doesn't bother your skin, shave along the direction of hair development. Utilize a razor-sharp blade, rinsing it with warm water after each stroke. Apply moisturizer when you're finished.
  • Avoid exposing too much skin when it's cold or windy: Skin can become especially dry under harsh conditions. When you're outside, covering your skin with a scarf, hat, gloves, or mittens may be beneficial.
  • Wear Gloves: When gardening, using abrasive cleaners, or engaging in other activities that cause skin dryness, cover your hands with appropriate gloves.
  • Following a swim, rinse and moisturize: If you've been swimming in a strongly chlorinated pool, this is extremely crucial.
  • When you're thirsty, drink: To help maintain all of your body's tissues, including your skin, well-hydrated, consume noncaffeinated beverages every day.
  • Bathe infants gently: When bathing babies, using a cleaner once every two weeks to clean them typically suffices. If not, simply bathe them in water. Clean their diaper area after each diaper change, though. While the skin is still damp, apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline, Aquaphor, etc.).

Complications Of Dry Skin

Dry skin is typically not harmful. However, if it is neglected, dry skin can result in:

  • Atopic dermatitis (Eczema): In those who are susceptible, excessive dryness can cause the disease to manifest itself as a rash and cracked skin.
  • Infections: Cracks in dry skin could let bacteria in and lead to illnesses.
  • When your skin's defenses are seriously weakened, these issues are most likely to happen: For instance, excessively dry skin may cause deep fissures or fractures that might open and bleed, providing a channel for invading bacteria.

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