Understanding Xerosis

Xerosis is a medical condition in which the skin becomes abnormally dry due to a lack of moisture or oil. It typically appears in areas such as the elbows, hands, feet and lower legs, although it can affect the entire body. Symptoms of xerosis include itching, scaliness and flaking of the skin.

Xerosis is more common during the winter, when the humidity levels drop and less moisture is present in the air. Cold air can also dry out the skin, contributing to the development of xerosis. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing xerosis include:

  • Age: Older adults are more likely to develop xerosis
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to drier skin
  • Medical conditions: Conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis can cause dry skin
  • Medications: Using steroid creams for an extended period of time can lead to dry skin
  • Sun exposure: Too much sun exposure without sun protection can cause skin to become dry
  • Weather changes: Moving to a dry, arid climate can make your skin more prone to xerosis

If left untreated, xerosis can lead to cracking and irritation of the skin. This can increase the risk of infection and other skin conditions. To avoid this, it’s important to take preventive measures to protect your skin from further damage.

Treatment and Prevention of Xerosis

Fortunately, xerosis is easily treatable at home. Planning a trip to a dermatologist is usually not necessary for mild cases. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of xerosis:

  • Keep your skin hydrated: Apply a thick layer of moisturizer to your skin at least twice daily
  • Wear protective clothing: When outdoors, cover up with loose-fitting clothing and a hat to protect your skin from the sun
  • Use gentle cleansers: Choose a mild cleanser with added moisturizers to avoid stripping your skin of natural oils
  • Bathe in lukewarm water: Exposure to hot water can further dry out your skin, so take shorter, lukewarm baths instead
  • Avoid harsh products: Avoid using cleansers, products and soaps that contain alcohol or fragrances, as these can be harsh on the skin

In severe cases of xerosis, your doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids or oral medications. These medications can help to reduce inflammation and keep your skin hydrated. Additionally, doctors may recommend using UVB treatments or phototherapy to improve skin hydration.