Dry Skin: The Basics

Ordinary dry skin is also known as xerosis. Dry skin is a common problem in most individuals at some point in their lives. The majority of cases of dry skin are not serious and very short lived. In all cases, the dry skin is not comfortable and may give rise to an itch and an uncomfortable sensation. As the dry skin condition progresses, excoriation marks from scratching the skin may appear and the skin may become red and thick. When dry skin is of a chronic nature, lines and wrinkles may be visible.

Ichthyosis is a chronic skin disorder which appears a dry skin and has an appearance of "fish scales". The condition is rare in the younger individuals but can be seen in the elderly. It is an unsightly disorder which is not only difficult to treat but can cause a moderate amount of emotional stress.

The major cause of dry skin is due to the environment and in most individuals this factor can be altered and the dry skin condition can be resolved. Any type of weather which has less humidity, the use of excess air conditioning or excessive skin washing can lead to skin dryness.

Other common causes of dry skin include:

- excessive showering and bathing

- use of harsh detergents and soaps

- old age

- hypothyroidism

The majority of individuals with an acute event of dry skin never see a physician and remedy their problem with home treatment. However, the majority of sufferers of chronic skin problem are seen by a dermatologist.

Signs and symptoms

In most individuals dry skin is only a transient problem. In some individuals it is a recurrent and long term problem. Any part of the body can be affected by dry skin but in most cases, dryness affects the arms or the legs. The symptoms of skin dryness are dependent on the acuteness of the condition, your age, cause of the problem and how much time you spend outdoors.

The typical features of a dry skin include:

- skin that looks shrunken or shriveled up

- the skin texture is rough to touch

- skin that spears scaly and may have signs of peeling

- fine lines

- cracking of the skin

- fissures that may bleed

- excoriation marking

- may be associated with severe itching

- skin that may look red and hot

- skin that feels tight or hot just after a hot bath or a swim

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