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5 Ways to Identify Xerosis

5 Ways to Identify Xerosis 5 Ways to Identify Xerosis

1. All Too Common

Chances are you've had xerosis before. Xerosis is simply dry skin, a common condition that can be very mild but uncomfortable nonetheless. Xerosis appears as rough, dull skin, often with fine lines or wrinkles. Sometimes there can be flaking or scaling and small cracks can result. Once there are cracks, irritation or infection can develop and the skin can have pink or red patches, swelling, tenderness or oozing. When dry skin becomes this severe, it can cause more serious medical conditions such as eczema, cellulitis or folliculitis. Dry skin can be a temporary or seasonal problem, or it can be a lifelong condition.

2. Why Me?

Dry skin is very common and most people will have it at some point in their lives. People of every race, gender, age and geographic area can have dry skin. Those who live in colder, dryer climates are more likely to get xerosis, especially during the winter months. Women and the elderly are also more likely to develop the condition. In fact, most people over the age of 64 have some amount of dry skin.

3. Your Body's Target Spots

Dry skin can happen anywhere on your body. The most common sites are the arms, shins, along the sides of your waist line, your cuticles and the backs of your hands.

4. When Dryness and Aging Meet

Seasonally, dry skin often accompanies the cold, dry air of wintertime, but it can also happen in summer when we have a good deal of sun exposure. Aging is another factor. As we age, we are more likely to get xerosis due to the reduction of our glands' oil production. For women, there is usually a significant decrease in oil production after menopause. Men also lose oil production, but it is much more gradual.

5. Why Does Xerosis Develop?

Xerosis develops when there is a decrease of water in the outer skin tissue due to the loss of natural oils. Often, you will develop dry skin because of environmental conditions such as winter, air conditioning, sun exposure, or behavioral habits such as bathing too frequently, using harsh soaps and dietary factors (alcohol, caffeine or prescription medications). When this is the case, it can be cared for fairly easily by hydrating, using a humidifier, bathing less frequently, applying moisturizers, using mild cleansers and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol.

Sometimes, however, xerosis is due to an underlying medical condition. Some of these conditions include atopic dermatitis, Down syndrome, liver or kidney diseases, psoriasis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, eating disorders, lymphoma, dehydration or hypothyroidism. If you are concerned about your condition or if treating it on your own has no effect, your doctor will be able to help.

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