Though most cases of dry skin (xerosis) have an environmental cause, certain diseases also can significantly affect your skin. Potential causes of dry skin include:

  • Weather. In general, your skin is driest in winter, when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. But the reverse may be true if you live in desert regions, where temperatures can soar, but humidity levels remain low.
  • Heat. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
  • Hot baths and showers. Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin. So can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
  • Harsh soaps and detergents. Many popular soaps and detergents strip moisture from your skin. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are usually the most damaging. Many shampoos may dry your scalp.
  • Sun exposure. Sun dries your skin, and its ultraviolet (UV) radiation penetrates far beyond the top layer of skin. The most significant damage occurs deeper, leading to deep wrinkles and loose, sagging skin.
  • Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema) or a skin condition marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales (psoriasis) are prone to dry skin.
Jan. 28, 2014

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