What is xerosis?
Xerosis is the medical name for dry skin. Xerosis is affected by a lack of moisture in the skin, which can be caused by underlying conditions such as aging (aging xerosis) or diabetes. The result is dry or very dry, rough, and tight skin, which becomes very rough and scaly, flaky, and itchy.
- Dry skin
Who’s at risk?
Dry skin can appear at any age, any race, and gender. However, the incidence of dry skin increases with age. Almost all people over 60 have somewhat dry skin.
Several environmental factors including cause dry skin
- Low humidity
- Frequent bathing
- Harsh soaps
Causes of xerosis
Xerosis is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, which can be aging or an underlying condition or disease. The elderly and people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing skin cirrhosis.
“Skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, keratosis pilaris, ichthyosis, and psoriasis can also origin dry skin and, if left untreated, can begin to further impairment, bleeding, and cracking.” There may be additional causes of xerosis:
- Over-cleansing or over scrubbing the skin
- Taking baths or showers using excessively hot water
- Bathing too frequently
- Vigorous towel-drying
- Living in areas of low humidity
- Living in areas with cold, dry winters
- Using central heating in your home or workplace
- Dehydration, or not drinking enough water
- Extended sun exposure
Dry skin can happen to anyone, at any time. However, certain factors make you more prone to developing xerosis.
- Age: As you age, sebum production slows down. Your skin doesn’t produce enough ingredients that make up your skin’s natural moisturizing factor. Why most people get xerosis as they age.
- Weather: Dry, icy weather contributes to dry skin. The low humidity living area also contributes because the dry air draws moisture away from the skin. The same goes for dry indoor air.
- Your bathing habits: Although this may seem strange, frequent bathing, using very hot water, and using too many stripping soaps are all factors that can create dry skin.
Symptoms of xerosis
Xerosis is a very common, chronic, and serious condition. The development of this condition depends on several factors, the main one being the lack of water and humidity. Dry skin generally exhibits some of the following symptoms, but very dry skin is more likely to experience these symptoms.
- Rough, dry, and tight skin: Roughness is usually due to drying. Due to a lack of moisture, skin cells die, leaving a thick layer of dead cells that feels like it has been touched.
- Itchiness: Dry skin causes itching and a tight skin reaction.
- Flaky Skin: This happens when the scales on the epidermis are trampled on and dropped. Sometimes it appears as a white powder.
- Eczema: Xerotic eczema is a type of eczema in which the skin itches, reddens, becomes dry, and sometimes cracks.
- Menopause: Menopausal eczema is also very common. This occurs when estrogen levels drop during menopause, leaving the skin absorbs less moisture.
Diagnosis of xerosis
Dry skin is very easy to determine the appearance. Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may order tests to look for health conditions that can cause dry skin, such as:
- Allergy tests to identify substances that can cause allergic reactions.
- A blood test to check for problems like diabetes or kidney disease.
- Skin biopsy (tissue sample) to check for eczema or other skin conditions.
Treatment for xerosis
If lifestyle changes and the use of dry skin moisturizers do not improve your skin condition, you should visit a dermatologist. The following dry skin remedies have been shown to be effective if practised consistently:
- Taking fewer baths and using warm water instead of hot water will allow the protective oils to remain on the skin.
- Make sure your soap is not harsh and does not degrade the lipid content of the skin.
- Moisturizing creams or ointments that contain petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or glycerin also contain water on the skin and should be used immediately after bathing.
- Moisturizers that contain certain ingredients like lactic acid or salicylic acid can also be used.
- Avoid scratching the dry skin patches because it can make the condition worse. Instead, gently rub the area to make it feel better.
- Try to use a mask for dry facial skin, it replenishes the nutrients and elasticity of the skin.
- Skin infection when bacteria or viruses intermittently penetrate the surface of the skin.
- Overheating, especially in some forms of ichthyosis.
- Food allergy, for example, peanuts, has been associated with filaggrin mutations
- Contact allergy, for example, to nickel, is also associated with barrier function defects.
Once your dry skin has healed, it can come back to haunt you. Keep it at bay with preventative care! Bathing or showering with warm water instead of hot water, using products for sensitive skin that do not cause skin irritation, and using moisture to increase the humidity level in your home are all important steps you should take to prevent xerosis. Bonus points if you stay hydrated and avoid direct sunlight.
When should I contact a doctor?
You should contact a dermatologist if:
- Your skin is oozing
- Large areas of your skin are peeling
- Cracks in your skin are bleeding
- You have a ring-shaped rash
- Your skin doesn’t improve within a few weeks
- Your skin gets much worse, despite treatment
Departments to consult for this condition
- Department of dermatology