Understanding Dry Skin in Adults: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

By Skin & Hair Academy | March 01, 2022
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Dry skin is one of the most common skin issues caused due to lifestyle choices, environmental conditions, genetics, or skincare habits. Although it is a painless skin condition, dry skin can lead to a feeling of roughness on the skin, followed by the appearance of rough scales and cracks. Scientifically, this condition is known as xerosis.

Dry skin can be observed in people of all ages and is not restricted to parts of the face alone. It may not be a serious problem on its own, but when left untreated, it can become an underlying cause of skin conditions like eczema and inflammation. Let’s look at relevant skincare tips to manage dry skin.

What is Xerosis or Dry Skin?

Xerosis is a Greek term that translates to ‘dry’. It may appear similar to dehydrated skin but is not the same. Factors like age, skincare habits, and seasons often impact the extent of dryness, which is characterized by the loss of water and natural oils from the skin. Xerosis can occur all over the body, but it is most commonly observed on the arms, hands, legs, and feet. It is a skin condition that is intermittent. Seasonal changes are the most common time when the extremity of xerosis may be felt.

There are many causes of dry skin that need to be treated to avoid dry patches on the skin.

Causes of dry skin

Most commonly, dry patches on the face occur because of a decrease in the natural oils on the skin. Several activities or conditions can trigger your skin to become dry. Let us take a look at the most common factors that cause dry skin:

  • Using harsh cleansers with strong surfactants
  • Over scrubbing your skin to remove dead skin cells
  • Bathing frequently with hot water
  • Using a harsh towel vigorously to absorb water from the skin.
  • Low humidity
  • Cold and dry weather conditions
  • Central heating
  • Not consuming enough water
  • Exposure to the sun for extended periods
  • Changes in hormonal levels
  • Medications like acne medicines and diuretics


Identifying dry skin conditions is the key to treatment. Keep a watch for skin that looks and feels rough to touch. You may also experience a tight, stretchy sensation on the skin at any time of the day.

As the condition remains untreated and extends beyond a few days, you are likely to observe peeling of your skin, the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles, redness, and cracking on the skin, which may also bleed at times. Consequently, you may feel a strong urge to scratch your skin due to the resulting itch, which is not good.

Along with the increased appearance of fine lines on the face, you may also begin to notice a greyish or ashy appearance on your skin.


Treating dry skin is essential if you do not want your skin to look compromised and irritated. The following tips might help in treating your skin condition:

  1. Use gentle soaps on your body and face which do not leave your skin feeling extremely dry.
  2. Start using moisturisers with a thick and creamy consistency. Look for ingredients such as lactic acid, urea, ceramides and hyaluronic acid in your creams and ointments.
  3. Avoid scratching your skin if it itches.
  4. Avoid using harsh abrasive scrubs.
  5. Include an oil-based skincare product as the last step in your routine to prevent loss of moisture.

When to See a Doctor?

In spite of focused skincare for dry skin, you may be unable to treat the condition yourself. It is highly recommended that you visit a dermatologist if you face any of the following conditions:

  • Skin that oozes
  • Peeling over large areas of the skin
  • The appearance of a ring-shaped rash
  • No improvement even after several weeks of treatment
  • Skin appears dull and dry despite regular skincare
  • Feeling of severe itching that prevents you from leading a normal life.


Let us share some tips on how to prevent dry skin.

  1. Avoid using extremely hot water while bathing and take shorter baths to minimise the probability of dehydrating your skin.
  2. Use a humidifier in your room to add moisture to the air.
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Limit the use of soaps with added dyes, fragrances or alcohol.
  5. Always make use of sunscreen when stepping outdoors.
  6. Instead of rubbing your skin with a towel, always pat dry to absorb water.


Although xerosis sounds like an unmanageable skin condition, you can still overcome and treat your skin for effective results. To a great extent, managing the effect of environmental factors and lifestyle habits can help to reduce dry skin. However, trying unproven home remedies and experimenting with various treatments may worsen the condition.

You must reach out to a recognized dermatologist for advice on treating your skin. Skin and Hair Academy can connect you with the best dermatologists in your area to understand more about xerosis.

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