What Is Dry Skin?

Dry skin – medically termed xeroderma – is a condition where the skin lacks sufficient moisture to maintain a soft texture. Although usually harmless, dry skin can cause itchiness, changes to your skin tone, and potential sores when it becomes more severe. Most dry skin cases can be relieved with a hydrating moisturizer. However, when you start to experience cracks in the skin, they can become painful sores that require proper wound care treatment to prevent infection.

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Who Gets Dry Skin?

Dry skin is very common, affecting nearly every individual at one point or another in their life. You may be at increased risk of dry skin if any of the following applies to you:

  • You live in a cold or dry climate
  • You spend a lot of time outside
  • You work with chemicals
  • You frequently wash your hands
  • You have chronic allergies
  • You are age 65 or older

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin happens when your skin’s layers lack moisture. Some of the factors that may dehydrate the skin include the following.


One of the natural parts of aging is the skin’s oil glands, responsible for producing moisture in the skin, begin to dry up. This leads to decreased fat and collagen, which keep the skin hydrated and supple, drying up as well. As the dermal layers become less hydrated from the inside and thinner on the outside, the skin becomes more prone to dryness.


Aspects of our environment, such as temperature, humidity, and wind, can affect how hydrated our skin is. Spending a lot of time in a cold, windy, or desert-like climate lacking humidity can make your skin more susceptible to dryness. Although dry skin can often worsen during wintertime, some may experience it year-round.

Health or Genetics

Some patients are prone to dry skin due to genetics or health conditions causing dry skin symptoms. Conditions that could cause dry skin include eczema, contact dermatitis, diabetes, allergies, dandruff, and kidney disease.


Patients who work in professions that require them to be outdoors, handle chemicals, or wash their hands frequently may be more prone to dry skin. Some occupations more likely to cause dry skin include hairstylist, healthcare provider, farmer, and construction worker.

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Common Bodily Areas Affected by Dry Skin

  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Hands
  • Elbows
  • Inner arms
  • Legs
  • Genitals
  • Feet

Dry Skin Prevention

  • Cleanse with a gentle, moisturizing, fragrance-free, non-soap cleanser
  • Take warm showers or baths
  • Minimize sun exposure
  • Moisturize after bathing while the skin is still damp, and pat the skin dry using a soft towel
  • Apply a moisturizer containing emollients to soothe and hydrate the skin or hyaluronic acid to increase your skin’s moisture
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration
  • Avoid smoking
  • Use a humidifier in your home
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Still Struggling With Dry Skin?

If you have tried the at-home prevention techniques and are still struggling with dry skin, our expert, board-certified medical providers at Skin Care Doctors can prescribe topical, oral, or injectable medication to help with the inflammation and irritation caused by your dry skin. Contact our office today to find lasting relief to dry skin.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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