What is xerosis?

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What is xerosis?
What is xerosis?
What is xerosis?

Xerosis is the fancy name for very dry or dehydrated skin. Although there are many causes of xerosis, environmental factors are the most common cause.

As the skin dries out, it loses its elasticity, which may result in skin breakdown. Some causes of xerosis can be low humidity, central heating and air-conditioning, hot baths and showers, harsh soaps and detergents and sun exposure.

Xerosis is a common condition characterized by redness, dry scaling, fissuring and cracking, excessive itching, inflammation and a lack of softness. The goal of therapy is to reverse the dryness by adding moisture to the skin.
Because water provides skin with its flexibility, moisturizing the outer layer of the skin is most important. Xerosis is most often seen on the extremities and the face.

Emollient lotions or creams are among the most effective treatments for xerosis. These lotions or creams have three basic properties: providing a layer of oil on the surface of the skin to slow water loss and thus increase the moisture content; increasing the water-holding capacity; and adding a slip or glide across the skin.

Emollients containing urea or alpha-hydroxy acids are particularly effective. Examples: Atrac-Tain® Cream, Eucerin® 10 % Urea Lotion, Lac-Hydrin 12% and Amlactin® Foot Cream Therapy. Other recommended treatments are moisturizers and topical steroids—for areas that get very inflamed and itchy.

To help prevent xerosis, avoid excess exposure to water, keep the bath water relatively cool and use gentle skin cleansers that do not contain dyes and fragrances.

In addition to using emmollients, skin care experts also recommend drinking plenty of water.

Please send your wound treatment-related questions to Donna Sardina at ltcnews@mcknights.com.