Xerosis

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Definition

Xerosis is an abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes.

Alternative Names

Asteatotic eczema; Eczema craquele

Causes

Dry skin usually gets worse during the winter.

Older people are usually affected more by this condition.

Symptoms

Your skin may get dry, scaly, itchy, and red. You may also have fine cracks on the skin.

The problem is usually worse on the arms and legs.

Treatment

Treatments include:

  • Moisturizers, especially creams or lotions that contain urea and lactic acid
  • Topical steroids -- for areas that get very inflamed and itchy

Prevention

To prevent xerosis:

  • Do not expose your skin to water more often than needed.
  • Use cool bath water.
  • Choose gentle skin cleansers that are free from dyes and perfumes.

References

Beiber T, Bussmann C. Atopic dermatitis. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 12.

Gilchrest BA. Skin disorders. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 38.

Habif TP. Eczema and hand dermatitis. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 3.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/12/2014
  • Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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