Xerosis, or dry skin, as it is more commonly known, is a condition in which the skin becomes dehydrated. Water composes almost one-third of human skin; therefore, xerosis or dry skin can appear if the skin loses water to the extent that only 10% of it is water. When this takes place, the skin can appear scaly and dull, and it can be flaky as well. Dry skin is more easily irritated, and it can become red and even crack. In this condition, skin can even become painful. The skin can appear coarse or rough, and it can either appear crack or actually crack, depending upon the severity of the dehydration.
Various causes have been identified as culprits which cause or intensify xerosis. Among these include extended exposure to water, perhaps through numerous baths and showers. Age can be a factor as well, as older persons are more susceptible to this condition. if a person lives in a low humidity environment or region, this can increase the possibility of that individual developing xerosis. In addition, if a person does not have sufficient vitamins in a diet, or is otherwise malnourished, this condition can lead to xerosis. The winter months are usually much harder on the skin as well, so many cases of dry skin either develop or become much worse during these seasons of the year.
Because the potential causes of xerosis are rather widespread, the treatments used to decrease the effects of the symptoms are somewhat varied as well. Initially, most people use lotion or a similar type of moisturizer to try and treat dry skin.
If dry skin is caused because a person takes a lot of baths and showers, especially those that involve extremely hot or almost scalding water, the temperature of the baths should be controlled. The length of time a person spends in a bath could also be timed or otherwise limited.
In the direct aftermath of a person having taken a bath, the lotion or moisturizer could be applied to the skin, perhaps especially to those areas which are the most greatly impacted by the xerosis condition. The skin should be patted with a soft towel or cloth. The moisturizer should be applied to damp skin in this case, and fragrance-free substances or brands are the most effective.
If a person has developed dry skin as a result of using harsh soap or detergent, a milder version should be used. Natural fiber clothing should be worn if at all possible, and it should not be tight or constricting, as the friction from these styles could exacerbate the condition.
If a person must shave a body area that is adversely affected by dry skin, the individual should use some sort of lubricating substance, perhaps like shaving cream. When climate factors are intensifying the condition, a person can reduce exposure to artificial heating. In many cases, a humidifier can help alleviate some of the symptoms of dry skin.
For extreme cases where dry skin has led to cracks and perhaps even pain and bleeding for the affected individual, especially in the areas of the hands and feet, the person could wear hypoallergenic gloves or socks with lotion beneath them while sleeping. The extended exposure of the skin to the moisturizer can help reduce the symptoms and the severity of the condition.
A physician or dermatologist should always be consulted, especially in extreme cases of xerosis. Sometimes a treatment regimen can include emollients, or creams designed to keep the skin well hydrated. In addition, because dehydration of the skin can occur as the result of a loss of the natural oils that are typically on the outer layer of skin, adding oils to a bath or applying oils directly to affected skin can be another effective treatment used to combat xerosis and its symptoms.
In the most severe cases, a doctor may elect to utilize a prescription cream, or even prescription medications that can increase the efficacy of the treatment and reduce the time span of the xerosis condition.
If a person has contracted dry skin as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun or wintery or other adverse climate factors, the person should take care to avoid these possible stressors, as they can serve to further exacerbate the condition.
Above all, a person should make every effort to maintain the presence and dominance of the natural oils on the external layer of skin. These oils are designed to keep the skin from becoming dehydrated, and it is often the depletion of these oils which leads to dry skin.