Home :: Skin Disorders :: Xerosis

Corynebacterium C.Xerosis Symptoms

Xerosis on an arm.

What is it?

Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin. The word itself comes from ancient Greek, divisible as xero- (dry) + -osis (condition). Usually old and dead cells normally drop off or are removed easily, but dry skin cells cling to the healthier cells and accumulate.

Where does it occur?

Xerosis can affect any area of the skin, although the more vulnerable areas are the face, hands, feet, legs (shins), abdomen (along the sides), genitals, and arm-pits.

How does it occur?

As the name implies, dry skin occurs as a result of a lack of moisture. The skin can lose moisture in a number of ways.


Xerosis is actually a natural condition, and not always cause for concern. As the organ that is the skin ages, its cells gradually weaken and degrade, losing their ability to reproduce healthily. The deterioration impedes proper exfoliation of old and dead skin cells. These skin cells appear as scales or flakes.


This is one of the most likely and unavoidable causes of dry skin: a dry cold can dehydrate the skin; moreover, the dry heat generated by central heating can remove further moisture from the air and the skin, increasing the likelihood of xerosis.

Natural or Chemical Removal:

Ironically, hygiene can contribute to the condition. Excessive bathing, particularly soaking in a hot bath, removes the body’s natural oils necessary in keeping the skin moist and supple. Diuretics, obviously, remove moisture: vomiting and diarrhea substantially dehydrate the body. Another irony: some liquids ingested also dehydrate the body. Alcohol and caffeine act as diuretics. Smoking is a popular companion to these diuretics, and likewise, it contributes to xerosis, accelerating the wrinkling around the eyes and the upper lip. Diet also plays a role. Dry skin can be the result of a deficiency in certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, or Vitamin A.

Hormonal or Chemical Imbalance or Genetic Inheritance:

Hypothyroidism, lack of hormones produced by the thyroid gland, reduces the sweat and oils produced to help hydrate the body. In some cases, this occurs through genetic inheritance. Some drugs or other chemicals can affect the body’s ability to produce sweat and oils. Diabetics are particularly susceptible to xerosis, the severe forms of which can lead to ulcers, infections, cracks in the skin, and in extreme cases, amputation.

Forms of Xerosis:

Although dry skin is easily treatable for the most part, it can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated. The most likely result is pruritus (an advanced form of xerosis), the symptoms of which are scaling and itchy skin, and can appear as very fine web-like lines. In most cases, it is not serious if caught quickly; if not, xerosis can become Xerotic Eczema, from cracked and irritated skin, Nummular Dermatitis (discoid eczema), Ichthyosis Vulgaris, Lamellar Ichthyosis, Asteatotic Eczema (Eczema Craquele), Psoriasis, all are harder to treat.

How can it be helped?

It should be a natural instinct to want to moisten dry skin. This, of course, is the solution; though the best means are less obvious.


The obvious solution to the effects of environment is to limit or change the harmful circumstances where possible. A decrease in exposure to the sun is helpful, especially if exertion is involved; profuse perspiration should be rectified by drinking water.


While a decrease in hot baths would certainly help, it is not recommended to avoid hygiene altogether. Showers and lukewarm water are easier on the skin. Mild soaps help to decrease xerosis, as does gentle dabbing with a towel, as opposed to rubbing.


Applying moisturizing oils and lotions are most effective when used immediately after a shower or lukewarm bath, as the skin is more absorbent. Skin-friendly fabrics are also recommended: cotton and silk allow better air-circulation over the skin.


Antioxidants, such as Vitamins C and E, can help to repair skin exposed to pollution and UV rays. Alpha Hydroxy Acids help skin cells to exfoliate regularly, they also treat some forms of Ichthyosis; however, they may irritate the skin. It is wise to consult a doctor before using these.

Xerosis is clearly treatable, in mild and early cases, less so in genetic and advanced circumstances. If at all worried, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor.

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