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Xerosis is an abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes.

Alternative Names

Asteatotic eczema; Eczema craquele


Dry skin usually gets worse during the winter.

Older people are usually affected more by this condition.


The skin is dry, scaly, itchy, and red. Fine cracks may appear on the skin.

The arms and legs are usually affected most.


Treatments include:

  • Moisturizers, especially those that contain urea and lactic acid
  • Topical steroids -- for areas that get very inflamed and itchy


  • Avoid excess exposure to water
  • Keep the bath water relatively cool
  • Use gentle skin cleansers that do not contain dyes and fragrances


Gilchrest BA. Skin disorders. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 38.

Habif TP. Eczema and hand dermatitis. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 3.

Review Date: 10/3/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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