Dry Skin

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Does dry skin cause winter itch?

Winter itch is a common name for the skin symptom of generalized itching in the winter. It is primarily caused by dry skin and is most common in the elderly. Winter itch caused by dry skin may also be seen in those with a history of eczema. External factors, including cold temperatures, low humidity, and the use of central heat, tend to worsen dry skin during the winter season. Therefore, some people refer the condition of dry skin in the winter as "winter itch."

Do genetics play a role in dry skin?

Dry skin may be mimicked by a genetic condition called ichthyosis. There are many types of ichthyosis. Ichthyosis vulgaris is the most common type and it is a severe scaly skin condition, often of the front of the lower legs. This is not really dry skin, but rather scaly skin caused by the failure of old skin to slough propperly. Ichthyosis vulgaris causes dry, fishlike scales. This type of ichthyosis tends to run in families. Dry skin is also more common in atopic dermatitis, which is thought to have a genetic component.

What medical conditions cause dry skin?

Certain physiological changes and medical conditions may cause dry skin. The onset of dry skin may be due to aging or hormonal changes, as seen in menopausal women. In some cases, individuals who have medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or malnutrition (for example, deficiency of vitamin A) may suffer from xerosis.

The following medical conditions may cause dry skin:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2016
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  • Dry Skin - Signs and Symptoms

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  • Dry Skin - Causes

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  • Dry Skin - Medical Conditions

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