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Xerosis aka Dry Skin – Dermatologists' Advice

Also known as:  Dry Skin

What is Xerosis?
Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin.

Who gets it?
Anyone can get dry skin.

What causes it?
Dry skin is caused by a lack of moisture. This is most common during the winter months, when heating systems dry the air. Bathing with hot water, spending extended periods of time in the hot sun, and the skin's natural aging process also remove moisture and oils from the skin.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of dry skin include itching, flaking, and fine lines. Xerosis of the foot is common in patients with diabetes and can lead to severe complications, such as ulcers, infections, and cracks in the skin (fissures).

How is it diagnosed?
Dry skin is diagnosed by appearance.

What is the treatment?
The treatment for dry skin is to return moisture to the skin. You can do this by applying moisturizing oils or lotions, using mild soaps when bathing, and avoiding rubbing the skin dry after a shower or bath. Instead, pat gently with a towel. The best time to moisturize is right after a shower or bath, when the water helps trap the moisture in your skin. You can increase the humidity in your home during the winter months with a humidifier. Severe xerosis, as in diabetic patients, is treated with a prescription medicated lotion. In some cases, xerosis can cause severe complications in diabetic patients, requiring amputation of the foot.

Self-care tips
Maintaining a balanced diet, exercising, and drinking plenty of water contribute to healthy, supple skin. If you must spend time in the sun, wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. If you are a diagnosed diabetic, have your feet examined regularly for signs of xerosis and its complications. Keep your feet well moisturized to prevent dry, cracked skin.

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