Dry skin, also called as xerodema or xerosis, is a common condition that happens when someone lacks the necessary amount of water in their epidermis, the top and outermost layer of the skin. Dry skin is more common in the areas of the arms, hands, and especially the lower legs. It can be a long-lasting problem, or it can last only a few days to a week. It can be caused by external factors such as the weather, experiencing cold or dry air, and humidity. Frequent hand-washing, particularly with harsh soap and sanitizers with alcohol, can also cause dry skin. Furthermore, this condition can be a side effect of taking certain medication, or a symptom of some other medical problem.
Mild conditions of dry skin may not require immediate medical treatment, but it can cause fine lines and wrinkles which can look unsightly, making one feel uncomfortable with their appearance. Having this condition makes one’s skin feel itchy and look rough. The skin may begin scaling or peeling and it may also turn reddish. After bathing and swimming, the skin will feel tight. In people with dark complexion, the skin will look gray and ashy. Moreover, the skin may have deep cracks that bleed.
Severe cases of dry skin are called ichthyosis. Its medical name is ichthyosis vulgaris, but it is also called the ‘fish scale disease.’ That is because it causes dry dead skin cells to gather in patches on the skin’s surface, and these patches look like fish’s scales. The skin will also be itchy and feel thickened. Ichthyosis is accompanied by a flaky scalp.
The best way to prevent dry skin is to regularly using creams and lotions like Alpha Keri, Alpine, Blackmores, and Cetaphil, all of which moisturize and lubricate the skin. There are also herbal creams like Kiwiherb and Natures Sunshine.
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