Dry Skin: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Dry skin, medically known as xerosis or xeroderma, is usually a mild condition caused by environmental factors, although dry skin can also result from some common skin ailments. Inherited diseases of the skin known as ichthyoses, while very rare, can also cause disfiguration and excessively dry skin. Even systemic conditions (conditions that affect the entire body) can lead to dry skin. One example is hypothyroidism, which reduces the activity of the glands that produce skin secretions. Some medications, including retinoids for the skin as well as some antihistamines and diuretics, may have dry skin as a side effect.

Dry skin can be associated with symptoms, including

  • flaking,
  • itching,
  • scaling,
  • dullness,
  • redness,
  • pain, and
  • rough skin or tightness of skin.

Dry skin can result from environmental factors such as hot baths/showers, soaps, or detergents.

Dry skin is treated with hydrating creams and lotions. If a skin inflammatory condition is associated with dry skin, treatment is directed at the underlying condition.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Other causes of dry skin

  • Aging
  • Bathing in Hot Water
  • Frequent Bathing
  • Harsh Scrubbing of Skin
  • Harsh Soaps and Personal Hygiene Products
  • Heavily Chlorinated Pools and Hot Tubs
  • Low Humidity
  • Malnutrition
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Neurodermatitis (Lichen Simplex Chronicus)
  • Vitamin A Deficiency
  • Weather and Seasonal Factors (Skin Is Typically Driest in Wintry Conditions)

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Most cases of dry skin are caused by disease or infection. See Answer

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.