Dry skin, also known as xerosis, is common and anyone can get dry skin. Skin becomes dry when it loses too much water or oils in the skin that serve as a natural moisturizer. As skin loses moisture, the surface cracks. Dry skin has a tendency to run in families and is usually a recurring problem, especially in the winter when the weather is cooler and less humid. Dry skin is often rough, scaly and itchy. Cracks in the skin may bleed if severe.
Causes of dry skin include increasing age, climate, certain skin conditions, jobs (for example nurses, doctors and people in occupations who often wash their hands or immerse their skin in water), excessive bathing and hobbies such as swimming.
An important aspect of treatment is to identify any contributing factors. Dry skin care includes reducing how often you bath or shower, using lukewarm water, short showers less than 10 minutes, using a mild soap or cleanser, and applying a moisturizer cream liberally and often. The drier the skin, the thicker the cream should be, especially on the hands. We may also recommend treating itchy patches with a topical steroid cream.