Xerosis is another name for dry skin, and this condition can impact persons of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and also, both genders. Water comprises almost one-third of the composition of human skin, so when the skin loses water and becomes dehydrated, this phenomenon can have extremely adverse effects on both the appearance and the health of the skin. The skin starts to appear dry or display symptoms associated with xerosis when its composition is only 10% water.
Xerosis is characterized by dull and dehydrated looking skin. The skin can appear coarse and even scaly, and in extreme cases, has the appearance of cracks on it. If the skin becomes dehydrated enough, it can actually crack. In these conditions, the skin can become much more easily irritated. It can turn red, and even be painful or start to bleed if cracks occur.
Because the outer layer of skin is the first line of defense against infections, it is extremely important to address xerosis as soon as possible. The longer a case lasts, the more extreme it can become. In addition, the chances of infection become increased if xerosis persists for a prolonged period of time.
Many factors have been identified as potential causes for xerosis. Weather can be a hugely influential factor, as many more people experience xerosis during the colder winter months than at other times of the year. In addition, if a person lives in a climate with little or low humidity, this can also increase that individual’s chances of developing xerosis.
Other potential influences include a person’s habit of taking long baths or showers. If a person prefers especially hot baths or showers, or spends extended periods of time soaking in water, this can also increase the chances of developing xerosis. In addition, older persons are more susceptible to developing this condition, as are people with pre-existing skin conditions like atopic dermatitis.
People can also develop xerosis if they suffer from malnutrition, or even if they simply do not get enough vitamins in their diet. This could be especially the case with vitamins A, B, and C. Stress can also play a role the development of xerosis, or in an increase in the severity of the symptoms associated with it.
The treatments used to alleviate the symptoms of xerosis, or dry skin, are relatively varied. Some treatment regimens are more palliative, such as the use or application of a lotion or other type of moisturizer. When a person takes a bath, the skin should be patted dry, and then the moisturizer should be applied to the skin while it is still damp. The areas most affected by xerosis should receive special application of the lotion or moisturizer.
Because xerosis often stems from the skin becoming dehydrated due to the reduction of natural oils in place on the outer layer of the skin, a person can also apply oils to the skin or take baths with oils added to them. The oils serve to reduce the chances that the skin will become dehydrated, and then can help undercut the effects of the symptoms as a result.
Another possible culprit in causing xerosis is the use of harsh soaps or detergents. Persons with dry skin should use mild soap and detergents, and they should be fragrance free if at all possible. This is true both for the types of soaps used in baths, and also, the detergents used for completing laundry for clothes that could be making the dehydration worsen. In addition, because friction against the skin from tight fitting clothing could make the symptoms intensify, individuals with dry skin should try and wear looser fitting clothing. Natural fibers like cotton could be helpful in this regard as well.
In addition to these possible factors, if a person is exposed for long periods of time to artificial heaters, such as it is during the winter months, this can also impact the potential development of xerosis. If this is the case, a humidifier is often a useful addition to a room or home, as these machines can help lessen or even eliminate symptoms associated with xerosis or dry skin.
If a person has a more extreme case of xerosis, a physician might elect to use a combination of prescription creams which are applied externally along with internally ingested prescribed medication. A physician or dermatologist should always be consulted to obtain a clear diagnosis, and to establish an effective treatment regimen based on the affected individual’s distinctive symptoms and conditions. A doctor may wish to use prescription medications and creams as a means of hastening the efficacy of the treatment regimen.