Xerosis cutis

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Update Date 11/05/2020 . 4 mins read
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What is Xerosis cutis?

Xerosis cutis is the medical term for abnormally dry skin. This name comes from the Greek word “xero,” which means dry.

Dry skin is common, especially in older adults. As you age, retaining moisture in the skin becomes more difficult. Your skin may become dry and rough as it loses water and oils. Although dry skin usually a minor and temporary problem, but it may cause discomfort.

How common is Xerosis cutis?

Xerosis cutis is more common in old age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Xerosis cutis?

The common symptoms of Xerosis cutis are:

  • Skin that is dry, itchy, and scaly, especially on the arms and legs
  • Skin that feels tight, especially after bathing
  • White, flaky skin
  • Red or pink irritated skin
  • Fine cracks on the skin

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Your skin is oozing
  • Large areas of your skin are peeling
  • You have a ring-shaped rash
  • Your skin doesn’t improve within a few weeks
  • Your skin gets much worse, despite treatment

You may have a fungal or bacterial infection, an allergy, or another skin condition. Excessive scratching of dry skin can also lead to an infection.

Dry skin in younger people may be caused by a condition called atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema. Eczema is characterized by extremely dry, itchy skin. Blisters and hard, scaly skin are common in people with this condition. A dermatologist can help determine whether you or your child has eczema. If you are diagnosed with eczema, your treatment plan will be different from a person with xerosis cutis.

Xerosis cutis can be a symptom of other conditions, including:

Therefore, it’s important not to ignore xerosis cutis. If itching or discomfort persists after treatment, bring the symptoms to the attention of a medical professional.

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Xerosis cutis?

Dry skin is linked to a decrease in the oils on the surface of the skin. It is usually triggered by environmental factors. The following activities or conditions may lead to dry skin:

  • Overcleansing or overscrubbing 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

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Xerosis cutis?

Xerosis cutis is worse during the cold winter months when the air is very dry and there is low humidity.

Older people are more susceptible to developing the condition than younger people. As we age, our sweat glands and sebaceous glands are less active, mostly due to changes in hormones. This makes xerosis cutis a common problem for those 65 years old and older.

Diabetes is also a risk factor, making older individuals with diabetes very likely to develop xerosis cutis.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Xerosis cutis diagnosed?

The condition can be diagnosed through a physical examination.

However, if the physician suspects that a medical condition is causing your dry skin, then he or she may do blood tests or other diagnostic procedures. The best treatment for dry skin caused by a medical problem is to treat the medical problem.

How is Xerosis cutis treated?

In many cases, you can treat your excessively dry skin by using moisturizers. An oil-based moisturizer is generally more effective at holding in moisture than a water-based one.

Look for moisturizers that contain lactic acid or lactic acid and urea. A topical steroid medication, such as hydrocortisone cream, can also be used if the skin is very itchy. Ask a pharmacist to recommend products for your dry skin.

Note that products marked “lotion” instead of “cream” contain less oil. Water-based lotions may irritate xerosis cutis instead of healing your skin or soothing symptoms. Other treatment methods include:

  • Avoiding forced heat
  • Taking lukewarm baths or showers
  • Drinking plenty of water

Natural treatments such as essential oils and aloe are popular for treating xerosis, but their effects remain mostly unproven. One study even recommends avoiding aloe vera in the treatment of xerosis, as it can make skin more sensitive. Soothing agents such as coconut oil can help hold in moisture and relieve itching.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Xerosis cutis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Xerosis cutis:

  • Avoid bath or shower water that is too hot. Opt for lukewarm water.
  • Take shorter baths or showers.
  • Avoid excessive water exposure, and do not spend extended amounts of time in a hot tub or pool.
  • Use gentle cleansers without any dyes, fragrances, or alcohol.
  • Pat the skin dry after a shower with a towel instead of rubbing the towel on your body.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Limit the use of soap on dry areas of skin and choose mild soaps with oil added.
  • Avoid scratching the affected area.
  • Use oil-based moisturizing lotions frequently, especially in the winter, and directly following a bath or shower.
  • Use a sunscreen when going outdoors.
  • Use a humidifier to increase the moisture of the air in your home.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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