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Definition of Dry skin

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dry skin: Abnormally dry skin. Can be caused by a dry climate, winter weather, severe deficiency of vitamin A, systemic illness, overexposure to sunlight, or medication. The skin loses moisture. It may crack and peel. Or it may become irritated, inflamed, and itch. Bathing frequently, especially with soaps, can contribute to dry skin.

With dry skin, it can help to keep baths or showers short in warm water with as little soap as possible, drying the skin gently -- pat without rubbing. Dry skin can also usually be addressed by the use of over-the-counter (OTC) topical preparations for dry skin. If these products do not relieve the condition, see a dermatologist for more specific remedies.

Medically, dry skin is called xeroderma. From the Greek "xeros" meaning "dry" + the Greek "derma" meaning "skin" = dry skin.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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