Xerosis cutis

Xerosis cutis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Pathologic dryness of the skin.

The condition occurs when the outer layer of skin loses moisture, causing roughness, itching and redness. The most common areas affected by xerosis cutis are the face, forearms, hands, lower legs and feet, although it can appear anywhere on the body. Individuals exposed to excessive levels of sunlight and air pollutants are more prone to developing xerosis cutis, and the problem appears more frequently in winter, when relative humidity is lower.

Older people often develop xerosis cutis, as the outer layer of skin becomes less able to hold moisture with age. Some medications can also cause the condition by changing the chemical composition of the skin. Other common causes include the use of harsh soaps and detergents, frequent bathing in hot water and genetic inheritance.

Xerosis occurs when skin contains less than required amount of essential oil in the outermost layer of the epidermis due to which the water contents fail to stick to the skin. A person is also likely to get affected by the problem due to environment factors like long exposure to the extreme cold or hot or pollution.

Spending longer time in air conditioner or centrally heating system can make the skin prone to xerosis cutis. Similarly, taking bath more than twice a day or swimming a couple of hours daily also make skin drier. Another cause could be use of unsuitable soaps that eventually take out adequate of essential oils from the skin.

Xerosis cutis

Sometimes few diseases like psoriasis that usually appears on the skin in the form of dry red spots covered by exfoliations can also lead to xerosis cutis. The skin can also become parched when there is some disorder in thyroid glands resulting in less production of thyroid hormones that finally decelerate the normal mobility of the sebaceous glands.

Another reason could be consumption of certain drugs can also cause xerosis cutis. Other risk factors may include intense physical exercise, dysentery, high fever, less consumption of liquids.


The symptoms of xerosis cutisare easily recognized and include itching, flaking patches of skin, which often worsen during winter or in areas of low humidity. In severe cases, the skin may begin to crack, which can lead to more serious problems. If irritants enter the cracks in dry skin, reddening, swelling, scaling and localized pain may occur. This is an indicator of eczema, a chronic, recurring, inflammatory skin condition that requires medical attention.


The doctor will first examine your skin thoroughly and inquire you whether you had any skin infection or skin disorder in the past. He would also like to know about your daily routine as well as the methods you adopt to take care of your skin. He may conduct some tests including thyroid test to ensure that the complication is not the result of any glandular disease.


Treatments include:

    Moisturizers, especially creams or lotions that contain urea and lactic acid.

  • Topical steroids -- for areas that get very inflamed and itchy.

If the skin becomes red, swollen or painful due to xerosis cutis, a dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroid ointment that will reduce these symptoms.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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