external image xerosis.jpg

The picture shown above is an example of the skin disease known as xerosis. Xerosis; more commonly known as dry skin, is a skin disorder in which the outer layer of skin or epidermis is dehydrated and lacks moisture. Symptoms of this disease include itchiness, rough and scaly feeling skin, flakiness, cracks in skin, redness, rashes, shrinking of skin, tightness or tautness after bathing, and even fluid filled sores. The most common areas of xerosis are the arms, legs (specifically the shins), and the back of the hands. What causes xerosis are ways the epidermis can become dehydrated. The causes includes excessive showering or bathing, use of hard soaps, low humidity and cold temperature weather, and vitamin A deficiency. Xerosis/dry skin can happen to anyone but it is most common in older adults. The treatments of xerosis involve returning moisture to the skin. This is accomplished by the use of moisturizing oils, lotions, and creams, and humidifying the environment around the skin. In serious cases, prescription medicines/remedies may be required for effective treatment. To prevent xerosis/dry skin, one should avoid the use of rough soaps/soaps in general, excessive bathing or showering, use of hot water (use lukewarm water instead), and exposure to very cold and low humidity weather.

Q1: Why does the excessive showering or bathing and use of hard soaps lead to the dehydration of skin?(E.Stanko)
A1: Excessive showering and bathing and the use of hard soaps washes away the oils/lipid layer that covers the epidermis. This lipid layer keeps moisture locked into the skin and removing it will lead to the loss of moisture.

Q2: Does a person's genetic makeup have any affect on the severity of the dry skin or is it mostly environmental? (CBACON)
A2: There can be cases where people inherit the inability of the body to produce enough sweats and oils. People can inherit hypothyroidism where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones and reduces the sweats and oils the body produces. Diabetes, a commonly inherited disease, can lead to dry skin as high blood glucose levels causes people to lose fluid, which turns skin dry as that fluid evaporates from the outer layer of skin.

Q3: Can any other type of disease of abnormality come from this disease? (S. Murray)
A3: Dry skin that is not cured for can lead to atopic dermatitis (eczema), folliculitis which is an inflammation of the hair follicles, and cellulitis which is a bacterial infection of the tissue under the skin that can further progress into the blood vessels and lymphatic system.

Q4: At any point, can xerosis become painful or harmful? (P. Melton )
A4: Xerosis can become painful if the dry/dehydrated skin is irritated enough from scratching, rubbing or further dehydration. This could cause the previously existing cracks/fissures to bleed and cause pain and harm.

Q5: What causes the fluid filled sores? (C.Muth)
A5: Fluid filled sores can develop if a person rubs or scratches the dry areas or if a skin infection is present.