Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Dry Patches on the Body

Overview

Dry, patchy skin on the body can be a cosmetic and health concern. These itchy areas can be caused by extremely dry skin, an allergic reaction or a related medical condition. Knowing why these patches occur and how to treat them can help you reduce their incidence and any associated symptoms.

Identification

Dry patches on the body can be due to very dry skin, a condition dermatologists term xerosis or asteatosis, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. This dry skin typically begins on the arms and legs. Dry skin areas can become thickened, and scratching can intensify these areas into patches.
Eczema is another condition that causes dry skin patches on the body. Ezcema causes dry skin with white, scaly patches. These typically begin near skin folds, such as inside the elbow or behind the knee, and then spread to other areas.

Those with diabetes also may experience dry skin, particularly on the legs, due to poor circulation. One condition, known as diabetic dermopathy, causes light-brown, scaly patches to develop on the legs. If your child has developed dry skin and scaling or redness on the palms of his hands or soles of his feet, this might indicate a condition known as ichythyosis, notes the BabyCenter website.

Other Causes

Your skin consists of many layers covered by an outermost protective layer that seals in moisture---much like a layer of plastic wrap over last night's leftovers, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The outer skin layer contains dead skin cells, oils and moisture in order to keep the skin smooth. However, low humidity, cold weather, exposure to chemicals or prolonged exposure to soap and water can cause dry, patchy skin to occur. An allergic reaction and dry skin can create a combination that triggers eczema.

Prevention

When you experience dry patches of skin, it's important to minimize hot shower time as excess shower time can dehydrate the skin and remove skin oils that provide moisture to the skin, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. When you bathe, use a mild cleanser that does not contain heavily perfumed oils or soaps as these can be drying to the skin. In order to add moisture into the air, which will help prevent dry skin, consider using a humidifier in your bedroom or other main areas of your home---be sure to clean it regularly to remove dirt and mold.

Treatment

Applying moisturizer several times a day can help to seal moisture into the skin. Moisturize within 3 minutes of exiting your shower and apply as needed throughout the day, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. If you experience eczema or extreme skin redness, apply a topical cortisone cream for five to 15 days. If your skin does not respond to this treatment, see your physician, who may prescribe a stronger topical treatment.

Warning

Anti-inflammatory or anti-itch lotions applied to dry, patchy skin can actually further irritate your skin, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. Examples of possible irritating ingredients include menthol, camphor and pramoxine. If you experience burning or itching when utilizing these topical treatments, cease their use.

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