What Is Xerosis Cutis?

Xerosis cutis is the medical term for abnormally dry skin. This name comes from the Greek word “xero,” which means dry.

Dry skin is common, especially in the elderly. It is usually a minor and temporary problem, but may cause discomfort. Your skin needs moisture to stay smooth. As you age, retaining moisture in the skin becomes more difficult. Your skin may become dry and rough as it loses water and oils.

Dry skin is more common during the cold winter months. Modifying your daily routine by taking shorter showers with lukewarm water and by using moisturizers can help prevent xerosis cutis.

What Causes Xerosis Cutis?

Dry skin is linked to a decrease in the oils on the surface of the skin. It is usually triggered by environmental factors.
The following activities or conditions may lead to dry skin:

  • over-cleansing or over-scrubbing the skin
  • taking baths or showers using excessively hot water
  • bathing too frequently
  • vigorous towel-drying
  • living in areas of low humidity
  • living in areas with cold, dry winters
  • using central heating in your home or workplace
  • not drinking enough water (dehydration)
  • extended sun exposure