Asian woman applying lotion on arm

Next-level dry skin has a name: Xerosis. Dry skin can be a skin type and a skin condition — xerosis is the latter. Characterized by abnormally dry, cracked, rough skin, it can be rather dangerous because it can leave you at risk of bacterial infection. But how can you tell the difference and can you reverse it? 

Causes of Xerosis

Xerosis is the medical term for abnormally dry skin, not to be confused with or xeroderma. Since xerosis is a skin condition, it is often temporary if addressed and cared for properly, ideally under the guidance of a professional. This painful condition can leave your skin cracked, rough, and scaly. If your skin gets too dry, it can break and leave you open to the risk of infection.

Lack of moisture in the skin brought about by aging or underlying medical or skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, , and psoriasis, is the primary cause. Particular environmental factors and lifestyle habits can also lead to xerosis, especially if you already have dry skin to begin with. These include:

  • Taking too hot baths or showers
  • Over-cleansing or over-exfoliating the skin
  • Prolonged unprotected sun exposure
  • Exposure to drying ingredients such as alcohol and cleaning agents

Treatment of Xerosis

If you have xerosis, treat it immediately to avoid infection. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, signs of infection include reddish, swollen bumps on the skin, puss-filled blisters, yellowish crusts, and red streaks spreading on the skin. Don’t wait for these symptoms to manifest and consult your dermatologist immediately. At home, practice a skincare routine suited for dry,

  • Check the labels. Look at your current roster of skincare products and skip those that have drying ingredients such as alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, AHAs, and sulfates. Switch to gentle cleansers that won’t strip your skin of its precious natural oils. 
  • Take moisturizing seriously. While your skin is still damp from the shower, apply a moisturizer all over, making sure to cover the affected areas. You could also choose to top these with an extra layer of petroleum jelly (only if your skin isn’t cracked or broken) to lock moisture in. Try Vaseline moisturizer with a fast absorbing formula and leaves a non-greasy feeling. Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Restore Body Lotion is a great option since it has aloe vera extract and drops of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly that deeply moisturizes the skin throughout the day.
  • Take short, cool showers. A hot bath may sound tempting but skip that for now and opt for a quick, cool shower. Hot water and steam can dry out your skin even more and worsen your condition.
  • Hydrate in every way you can. Drink lots of water and eat water-rich foods like melons, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, cucumber, and celery.
  • Use a humidifier. If the air is dry in your home (you’ll know this by how your skin feels), use a humidifier to add more moisture to your environment and relieve your dry, itchy skin.
  • Stay out of the sun. For now, you might want to skip sunbathing. Sun exposure, even with SPF, can cause water to evaporate from your skin. Preserve all the moisture in your skin. Stay out of the sun until you see improvement in your skin condition.

Xerosis is painful, uncomfortable, and puts you at risk of infection, but it is a temporary condition that can be treated with the help of a professional and a skincare routine for dry skin.