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Dry skin

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Dry skin

Xerosis
Classification and external resources
10 E50.0-E50.3, H11.1, L85.3
ICD-9 MedlinePlus 000835

Xeroderma or xerodermia (also known as xerosis cutis[1]), derived from the Greek words for "dry skin," is a condition involving the integumentary system, which in most cases can safely be treated with emollients and/or moisturizers. Xeroderma occurs most commonly on the scalp, lower legs, arms, the knuckles, the sides of the abdomen and thighs. Symptoms most associated with xeroderma are scaling (the visible peeling of the outer skin layer), itching and skin cracking.[2]

Common causes

Xeroderma is a very common condition. It happens more often in the winter where the cold air outside and the hot air inside creates a low relative humidity. This causes the skin to lose moisture and it may crack and peel. Bathing or hand washing too frequently, especially if one is using harsh soaps, may also contribute to xeroderma. Xeroderma can also be caused by a deficiency of vitamin A, vitamin D, systemic illness, severe sunburn, or some medication.[3] Xeroderma can also be caused by choline inhibitors. Detergents like washing powder and washing up liquid can also cause xeroderma.

Prevention

Since the development of Nivea Skin Creme by German pharmacists in the late 1800s, a huge array of topical skin moisturizers have been introduced on the worldwide market. Today, many creams and lotions, commonly based on vegetable oils/butters, petroleum oils/jellys, and even lanolin[4] are widely available. As a preventative measure, such products may be rubbed onto the affected area as needed (often every other day) to prevent dry skin. The skin is then patted dry to prevent removal of natural lipids from the skin.[5]

Cure

Repeated application (typically over a few days) of emollients and or skin lotions/creams to the affected area will likely result in quick alleviation of xeroderma. In particular, application of highly occlusive barriers to moisture, such as petrolatum, vegetable oils/butters, and mineral oil have been shown to provide excellent results. Many individuals also find specific commercial skin creams and lotions (often comprising oils, butters, and or waxes emulsified in water) quite effective (although individual preferences and results vary among the wide array of commercially available creams). Lanolin, a natural mixture of lipids derived from sheep's wool, helps replace natural lipids in human skin and has been used since ancient times (and in modern medicine) as among the most powerful treatments for xeroderma.[6] However, pure lanolin is a thick waxy substance which, for many individuals, proves difficult and inconvenient for general use on dry skin (especially over large areas of the body). As a result, many formulated lanolin products, having a softer consistency than pure lanolin, are available[7] (see external links below and or consult a pharmacist for recommendations concerning commercially available speadable formulations comprising lanolin).

See also

References

External links

  • Lanicare.com - Overview of Important Lanolin History, Applications, and Chemistry
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