Skin is a vital organ of the body, but is often overlooked and not cared for properly. It’s the body’s largest organ, and is the protective layer that maintains the health of the immune system by shielding the internal organs from pathogens, balancing the body’s temperature, storing fats and assisting the body in absorbing oxygen. We also experience our sense of touch because of the skin. Xerosis cutis occurs when the skin is dry and cracked instead of being supple and smooth like it should be. “Xero” actually means “dry”, and “osis” indicates that the condition is a medical disorder. There are several reasons for xerosis cutis.
Reasons for Xerosis Cutis
Chronically dry skin occurs when the epidermis, or inner layer of the skin, loses moisture. The following conditions can cause the skin to become chronically dry:
- Renal diseases
- Atopic dermatitis
- Obstructive biliary diseases
- Zinc, vitamin A or essential fatty acid deficiency
- Irritant Contact dermatitis
- Neurological disorders that cause decreased sweating
- Aging, which leads to decreased function of the sweat and sebaceous glands. Aging causes lower levels of triglycerides and sterol esters in the skin
Xerosis cutis doesn’t occur overnight; rather, it is a gradual process. Early symptoms include a red tinge that covers the skin. Over time, if Xerosis cutis is not treated, the skin will form cracks similar to eczema craquelle. This happens because there is insufficient water stored in the epidermis. The cracks in the skin will become wider and emphasize the natural lines of the skin, causing fissures to form. If the fissures are deep enough to reach the capillaries, the skin will start to bleed. The bleeding causes pruritis, which is intense itching. When the skin is scratched, open wounds form, which increases the likelihood of skin infection.
Treatment for Xeroris Cutis
Restoring the balance of water and oil in the skin is essential to properly treating and eliminating Xerosis cutis. Here are some treatment tips:
- Take a bath daily in lukewarm water, using soaps with extra moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E or coconut oil. Apply skin moisturizers and oils to the skin immediately after getting out of the bathtub. Vitamin E, jojoba oil, olive oil and almond oil are ideal natural moisturizers.
- Bathe in lukewarm water with oil instead of soap after swimming. Bathing in hot water can irritate the skin and make Xerosis cutis worse.
- Use lotions that contain alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) like Neostrata 15 AHA body lotion to treat Xerosis cutis. It is also important to use a moisturizing sunscreen, since prolonged sun exposure can dry out the skin.
- Maintain a healthy diet, take zinc supplements and drink lots of water every day. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are recommended. This restores the skin’s tissues and renews their water and oil content.
Of course, you should also exercise regularly. The more physically active you are, the more sweat your body will produce. This keeps your skin taut and clean.