Dry skin (xerosis) is a condition of rough, dry skin with fine scaling of skin and, occasionally, with small cracks in the skin. Dry skin is also known as winter itch or asteatosis.Often itchy, dry skin is caused by environmental factors, such as cold weather and frequent bathing, and by medical conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and malnutrition. Dry skin develops due to a decrease in the natural oils in the outer layer of skin, which makes the skin lose water.
Pityriasis alba is a common skin rash that occurs mainly in school-aged children and less commonly in infants. The rash of pityriasis alba appears as round, light-colored, slightly raised patches that have a thin scale and may be itchy. The lesions are common on the face (cheeks), neck, and upper arms and legs, and may be one half inch to several inches in diameter. The cause of pityriasis alba is not clear, but it appears to be worse with dryness, heat, and other stress to the skin. It does not appear to be contagious. The lesions of pityriasis alba may disappear only to reappear until approximately 1 or more years after the rash began (if left untreated). Once the rash is entirely resolved, normal pigmentation will reappear several months later.
Erythrasma is a common chronic skin condition affecting the skin folds. The slowly enlarging patches of pink to brown dry skin are caused by an infection by the bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum.
A stye (hordeolum) is a local, acutely inflamed growth (swelling, lesion) of the eyelid. They can occur at the lid margin or farther up the lid on either the inner (tarsal) side or the outer (skin) side of the lid. A chalazion is the chronic form of a stye, and its cellular makeup is different than that of a stye.Both the meibomian and sebaceous oil glands of the lid can be involved in this process, which begins with a blockage of the normal openings of these glands, leading to the swelling. Typically, there is bacterial contamination.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. When it involves the outside front of the eyelid, where the eyelashes are attached, it is called anterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis may be caused by: Bacteria Scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) Allergy Psoriasis If blepharitis involves the inner eyelid, it is called posterior blepharitis. Posterior blepharitis may be caused by:Dysfunction of the oil (meibomian) glands in the eyelid Acne rosacea Scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)Allergy
Lichen simplex chronicus (LSC), also known as neurodermatitis circumscripta, is an itchy skin condition causing thickened skin at the areas of skin injured by repeated scratching and rubbing. Lichen simplex chronicus is not a primary disease but rather the skin's response to chronic physical injury (trauma). The gradual thickening of skin, caused by repetitive scratching and rubbing, is called lichenification.Lichen simplex chronicus begins as itchy skin. The itching leads to scratching and rubbing, which causes thickening of skin. The thickened skin is itchy, which causes more scratching and, thus, more skin thickening. This scratch-itch cycle continues if not treated.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an intensely itchy rash that appears as dry skin, unable to shield itself from irritants (poor skin barrier function). The intense itching is made worse by scratching. The condition runs in families and often occurs along with asthma and hay fever. There is no cure for eczema, and it is not contagious. Eczema is a condition primarily affecting people who have allergies. Heat, humidity, detergents/soaps, abrasive clothing (eg, very scratchy wools), chemicals, smoke, and stress may trigger eczema. Scratching increases the chances of developing an infection in the affected areas (superimposed infection) because scratching creates breaks in the skin that can allow bacteria to get in.
Notalgia paresthetica is a condition where the skin of the upper back becomes itchy, and there is often a darker patch of skin on the itchy area. Notalgia paresthetica may be caused by a problem with the nerve cells that provide feeling to the skin of the upper back (sensory neuropathy). Skin changes, if present, are due to chronic rubbing and scratching of the affected area.
During winter, skin is subjected to an increased amount of moisture loss. As a result, I hear the term dry skin used a lot. There really are many terms in dermatology related to dry skin. In fact, the term dry skin is a layman’s phrase. I’m going to share some of the more colorful and interesting terms physicians use to describe this condition. Often, the medical term itself is a clue to the symptoms it is referring to. I selected and interpreted a few terms that I find particularly interesting and relevant to this time of year.
When it comes to vacationing for spring break, there is one thing almost everyone overlooks: the time you spend in the air can do a number on your skin. While we have already discussed what you need to pack to protect your skin during your vacation, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts to ensure your skin looks its best before, during, and after your flight.Before your flight:
Despite our best efforts, there are some skin conditions that invariably get worse in the summer. I fully understand why many of my patients come to dread the summer as a time of frustration. Maybe you can relate? They spend fall, winter, and spring clearing their skin and then watch it worsen during the summer despite their best efforts to wear hats and sunscreen. Part of the problem is due to our busy lifestyles and the increase in sun exposure during the summer months. I tell my patients they don’t have to despair; there are actions they, and you, can take beyond sunscreen and hats that will help minimize the effects of skin conditions that worsen in the summer.
Ten rules for healthy skin from the University of Connecticut Department of Dermatology. 1. Wash your face in the morning and evening with a mild, gentle, super-fatted soap to remove dirt, bacteria, make-up, etc. After age 40 you only need to cleanse once per day. 2. Lubricate your skin. Dry skin looks older. 3. WEAR complete (UVA & UVB) SUNSCREENS or sunblocks to protect your skin. Try to avoid the mid-day sun.
In my last post I covered winter itch, a common skin condition from September through May. However, you don’t need winter itch to have dry winter skin. Skin can feel uncomfortable even when it doesn’t itch. I am going to explain why skin dries out in winter and then give you some suggestions to help keep your skin moist during the winter months.
Can you prevent dry skin by using chemical-free skin care products? I worry about a buildup of chemicals on my skin causing acne, dry skin, or skin cancer.
VisualDx Editorial Board members are dedicated to enhancing patient care through professional service, leadership, and commitment to advancing standards in clinical practice, medical education, and research. Most recently, the following board members were recognized by the International League of Dermatological Societies and by William D. James, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.