Dry skin is often temporary — you get it only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong condition. And although skin is often driest on your arms and lower legs, this varies from person to person. What's more, signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health, where you live, time spent outdoors and the cause of the problem.
Dry skin is likely to cause one or more of the following:
- A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
- Skin that feels and looks rough
- Itching (pruritus)
- Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
- Fine lines or cracks
- Gray, ashy skin in people with dark skin
- Deep cracks that may bleed
When to see a doctor
Most cases of dry skin respond well to lifestyle and home remedies. See your doctor if:
Jan. 28, 2014
- Your skin doesn't improve in spite of your best efforts
- Dry skin is accompanied by redness
- Dryness and itching interfere with sleeping
- You have open sores or infections from scratching
- You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin
- Dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/dry-skin. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- Fazio SB, et al. Pruritus: Overview of management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- The management of chronic pruritis in the elderly. Skin Therapy Letter. com. http://www.skintherapyletter.com/2010/15.8/2.html. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- Weston WL, et al. Treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- Dermatologists' top 10 tips for relieving dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/winter_skin.html. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 1, 2013.