Dry skin, medically known as xerosis or xeroderma, is usually a mild condition caused by environmental factors, although dry skin can also result from some common skin ailments. Inherited diseases of the skin known as ichthyoses, while very rare, can also cause disfiguration and excessively dry skin. Even systemic conditions (conditions that affect the entire body) can lead to dry skin. One example is hypothyroidism, which reduces the activity of the glands that produce skin secretions. Some medications, including retinoids for the skin as well as some antihistamines and diuretics, may have dry skin as a side effect.
Dry skin can be associated with symptoms, including
- pain, and
- rough skin or tightness of skin.
Dry skin can result from environmental factors such as hot baths/showers, soaps, or detergents.
Dry skin is treated with hydrating creams and lotions. If a skin inflammatory condition is associated with dry skin, treatment is directed at the underlying condition.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Causes of Dry Skin
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...
Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs after exposure to an irritant. It can be allergic. Symptoms include a red, elevated rash...
Corns and calluses are sometimes painful areas of thickened skin that appear between the toes and fingers or on the soles of the...
Dandruff (seborrhea) is a skin disorder that results from neither too much moisture nor too much oil. Dandruff can be treated...
Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp
Dandruff is a condition characterized by small white flakes that shed from the scalp. Dry scalp is simply dry skin on one's head....
Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged...
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications)
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication of type 1 diabetes that is life threatening. If a person thinks they may have...
Eczema refers to skin inflammation. There are many different types of eczema that produce symptoms and signs that range from...
Hypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone...
Ichythyosis vulgaris is an uncommon inherited condition marked by xerosis. Symptoms and signs include very dry, scaly skin over...
Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin disorder in which small white or red bumps appear around hair follicles on the upper...
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....
The word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different...
Sunburn (Sun Poisoning)
Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. UV rays can also damage the eyes. Repeated overexposure to UV...
Other Causes of Dry Skin
- Bathing in Hot Water
- Frequent Bathing
- Harsh Scrubbing of Skin
- Harsh Soaps and Personal Hygiene Products
- Heavily Chlorinated Pools and Hot Tubs
- Low Humidity
- Medication Side Effects
- Neurodermatitis (Lichen Simplex Chronicus)
- Vitamin A Deficiency
- Weather and Seasonal Factors (Skin Is Typically Driest in Wintry Conditions)