Overview

Dry skin isn't usually serious, but it can be uncomfortable and unsightly.

Serious dry skin conditions — an inherited group of disorders called ichthyosis — can sometimes be disfiguring and upsetting. Fortunately, most dry skin is caused by environmental factors that can be at least partially controlled. These factors include hot or cold weather, low humidity, and soaking in hot water.

You can do a lot on your own to improve your skin, including using moisturizers and avoiding harsh, drying soaps. Chronic or severe dry skin problems may require evaluation by a doctor who specializes in skin (dermatologist).