Xerosis has so many nicknames like dry skin, winter itch or asteotosis. It is usually marked by fine scaling of the skin and sometimes the appearance of occasional cracks. It mainly happens as a consequence of loss of moisture or absence of it in the surrounding environment.
Dry skin could happen with any people, regardless of any age, sex, location, and race. However, the tendency of occurrence of this disease is found to be more prevalent among aged people, especially those above 60, since the suppleness of the skin diminishes naturally with age.
Prominent Signs of Xerosis
It is very easy to find whether one has got dry skin or not. As already mentioned in the above section, the most prominent nature of this skin problem is excessive flaking of the skin. This is the commonest symptom found almost in everyone suffering from this complication.
Also it is observed that the skin becomes irresistibly itchy and even in some cases too much and too harsh scratching might lead to inflammation. Inflamed skin grows red or pink in color. In extreme cases the skin is cracked and painful like the fissures often found on the heels.
Factors Influencing Xerosis
• Any factor that works behind the deficiency or absorption of moisture from the skin or the surrounding environment might give rise to dry skin.
• Too much and frequent bathing is highly responsible for drying up the natural moisture from the skin.
• While bathing, some people prefer too hot water; however, this might be harmful for the skin since hot water is most likely to absorb the moist substance from the skin.
• Using harsh soaps on dry skin might also leave serious impacts. Often it is found that most people do not seem to have a clear idea of identifying a harsh soap. Any soap that does not contain a moisturizing agent is a harsh soap.
• Coarse rubbing with towels after bath in an attempt to drying up the skin is another risk factor playing behind xerosis especially if it is done on a dry skin.
• Environmental factors play a very important role in preparing favorable conditions for dry skin. Winter in many countries brings cold and dry climate which is not at all suitable for dry skin.
Rather such climates are responsible for drying up the skin. It so happens that in order to protect our body from cold weather, the natural defense system of our body withdraws blood supply into the skin to a considerable extent and results in lack of proper nourishment of the skin which could give rise to dry skin.
• In order to combat cold, many people use home heating systems which spread extremely dry air into the room. This might cause dry skin by absorbing the skin moisture.
- All preventive steps against dry skin is targeted at restoring and maintaining the water content in the skin and fixing up the fissures and inflammations to bring the skin into a normal condition.
- Emollient creams are mostly used and has proven to be best effective as a safeguard which provides protection against evaporating the natural water from the skin. Besides, they are also soothing in nature and quite efficient in healing up the itchiness and stop the flaking. Emollients are advised to be used especially after bath so that the suppleness added to the skin during bath is protected for a longer period.
- A substitute of emollients is oil. Although the effect of oil is not as strong as the emollients, yet it is also capable of providing enough protection against evaporating the skin moisture. Oils could be mixed in the water while taking bath.
- Using lukewarm water instead of hot water, and limiting the bathing time to 15 minutes at the maximum is an essential step for anyone suffering from xerosis. Use moisture contained soaps preferably instead of harsh deodorant soaps. However it is always better if soap could be avoided altogether, and replaced by cleansers. Also do not forget to pat dry the skin after taking bath, instead of harsh rubbing.
- A few over-the-counter skin care products might be helpful like Vaseline or petroleum jelly, creams containing urea or OTC cortisone creams (for lessening inflammation), topical antibiotics to prevent further inflammation inside the badly affected fissures, products that contain alpha-hydroxy acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid, oil-based and fragrance free creams and moisturizers. Unlike oily skin, dry skin responds better with oil-based products than water-based.
- If you are badly bitten by cold and left with no other option than a room heating system, then always use a humidifier alongside in order to balance the moisture content within the room.