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Xerosis

Xerosis is an abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes.

Causes

Dry skin usually gets worse during the winter.

Older people are usually affected more by this condition.

Symptoms

Your skin may get dry, scaly, itchy, and red. You may also have fine cracks on the skin.

The problem is usually worse on the arms and legs.

Treatment

Treatments include:

  • Moisturizers, especially creams or lotions that contain urea and lactic acid
  • Topical steroids -- for areas that get very inflamed and itchy

Prevention

  • Do not expose your skin to water more than needed.
  • Use cool bath water.
  • Choose gentle skin cleansers that are free of dyes and perfumes.

Alternative Names

Asteatotic eczema; Eczema craquele

References

Gilchrest BA. Skin disorders. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 38.

Habif TP. Eczema and hand dermatitis. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 3.

Update Date: 11/20/2012

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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