What is dry skin?

Though most cases of dry skin are caused by environmental exposures, certain diseases also can significantly alter the function and appearance of your skin. Potential causes of dry skin include: Weather. In general, your skin is driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. Winter conditions also tend to make many existing skin conditions worse. But the reverse may be true if you live in desert regions, where temperatures can soar but humidity levels remain low. Central heating and air conditioning. Central air and heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin. Hot baths and showers. Frequent showering or bathing, especially...

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dry skin information from trusted sources:

Dry skin

Dry skin is most common in your lower legs, arms, flanks (sides of the abdomen), and thighs. The symptoms most often associated with dry skin include: Scaling Itching Cracks in the skin

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Dry skin

Ordinarily, dry skin (xerosis) isn't serious, but it can be uncomfortable and unsightly, turning plump cells into shriveled ones and creating fine lines and wrinkles.

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Dry skin

Dry skin is a very common condition. Dry skin is one of the most common skin abnormalities. Although certain individuals are more susceptible to dry skin, the condition can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or skin type.

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Dry skin (xerosis) is a condition of rough, dry skin with fine scaling of skin and, occasionally, with small cracks in the skin. Dry skin is also known as winter itch or asteatosis.

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11 Causes of Dry Skin Problems

Before you can treat dry skin properly, you need to know what's causing those dry, itchy patches. Here are 11 common causes of dry skin.

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Dry Skin (xerosis)

Dry skin, also called xerosis, is a common problem. Your skin needs moisture to stay smooth and supple, and retaining moisture is especially difficult in ...

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Xeroderma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Xeroderma, literally meaning "dry skin", is a condition involving the integumentary system, which in most cases can safely be treated with emollients and/or ...

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Dry Skin & Keratosis Pilaris

Dry skin and keratosis pilaris are common. Dry skin can occur at any age and for many reasons. Keratosis pilaris is an inherited skin condition that ...

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Dry Skin (Xeroderma) Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Prevention, Home ...

Mar 15, 2011 ... Dry skin is a very common skin condition characterized by abnormal or excessive dryness of skin. While dry skin tends to affect males and ...

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Skin Problems: Dry, Itchy Skin -- familydoctor.org

Sep 15, 2003 ... Learn how to treat dry, itchy skin at home, and when you should see your doctor.

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Dry skin that's not cared for can lead to: Atopic dermatitis (eczema). This condition causes redness, cracking and inflammation. Folliculitis. This is an inflammation of your hair follicles. Cellulitis. This is a potentially serious bacterial infection of the skin's underlying tissues that may enter the lymphatic system and blood vessels.

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Home Care
It may help to change your bathing habits:Keep baths or showers short. ; Use warm (not hot) water. ; Use as little soap as possible. Limit its use to face, armpits, and genitals if you can. Try mild cleansers like Aveeno or Cetaphil or mild soaps like Neutrogena or Dove. ; Dry your skin thoroughly but gently -- pat, DON'T rub. ; Take baths or showers less often.; Use bath oils and moisturizers at least daily. Thick, greasy moisturizers work best. Avoid products with alcohol. Apply just after...

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Lifestyle and home remedies
Although it may not be possible to achieve flawless skin, the following measures can help keep your skin moist and healthy: Moisturize your skin. Moisturizers provide a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping. Thicker moisturizers work best, such as over-the-counter brands Eucerin and Cetaphil. You may also want to use cosmetics that contain moisturizers. If your skin is extremely dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin is still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers do and prevents the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin. Use warm water and limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit...

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Medical advice
Call your doctor if:You feel itchy without a visible rash; Dryness and itching are preventing you from sleeping; You have any open cuts or sores from scratching; Home care measures do not relieve your dryness and itching

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Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred directly to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).

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Risk factors
Although anyone can develop dry skin, you may be more likely to develop the condition if you: Are older than 65; Live in dry, cold or low-humidity climates; Bathe or shower frequently

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Dry skin is often just a temporary problem one you experience only in winter, for example but it may be a lifelong concern. And although skin is often driest on your arms, lower legs and the sides of your abdomen, this pattern can vary considerably from person to person. What's more, signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health status, your locale, the amount of time you spend outdoors, and the cause of the problem.

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Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor is likely to conduct a thorough physical exam and to ask questions about your medical history, including when your dry skin started, what factors make it better or worse, your bathing habits, your diet, and how you care for your skin.

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Treatments and drugs
In most cases, dry skin problems respond well to home and lifestyle measures, such as using moisturizers and avoiding long, hot showers and baths. If you have very dry and scaly skin, your doctor may recommend you use an over-the-counter (nonprescription) cream that contains lactic acid or lactic acid and urea.

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What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Dry skin is common. It happens more often in the winter when cold air outside and heated air inside cause low humidity. Forced-air furnaces make skin even drier.

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