Skin Specialists Online

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Ask A Skin Doctor: Xerosis

Dear Doctor

I have very severe dry skin and the soaps make it worse. I stopped using soap from 2 weeks and still the dry skin persists as shown in the picture.

I thought this dry skin might be because of less  drinking water. Now I have been drinking at least 4 liters a day. But there is no change in my skin condition.

Please suggest me a solution.


Dear Patient

Your symptoms are suggestive of Xerosis cutis which is abnormally dry skin. The treatment of xerosis involves using:

1. Soap-free cleansers

Using mild cleansers that do not strip moisture from the skin is important for managing xerosis. Examples include Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser.


2. Moisturizers

Emollients or moisturizers are very important since they prevent dryness and help the skin look better cosmetically.

For maximum effect, moisturizers should be applied within 3 minutes of stepping out of the bath or shower, after the skin has been patted dry but while it is still moist in order to lock in as much moisture as possible.

Examples of moisturizers that can be used include 100% pure petroleum jelly like Vaseline petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerine, coconut oil and Aquaphor Healing Ointment.


3. Exfoliants

Exfoliants are products which remove the dead, scaly skin cells on the skin’s surface and help the other skin care products penetrate better. Examples include:

(i) Urea moisturizes the skin and exfoliates it. Examples of urea containing products include Eucerin 10% Urea Cream.

(ii) Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid and lactic acid are used for chemical exfoliation. Examples of AHA containing products which moisturize and exfoliate the skin include Amlactin Moisturizing Body Lotion which contains 12% lactic acid, Neostrate Problem Dry Skin which contains 20% AHA and Eucerin Plus Cream which also contains AHAs.

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