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Alternative Names Return to topSkin - dry; Winter itch
Definition Return to top
Dry skin is most common in your lower legs, arms, flanks (sides of the abdomen), and thighs. The symptoms most often associated with dry skin include:
Causes Return to top
Dry skin is common. It happens more often in the winter when cold air outside and heated air inside cause low humidity. Forced-air furnaces make skin even drier.
The skin loses moisture and may crack and peel, or become irritated and inflamed. Bathing too frequently, especially with harsh soaps, may contribute to dry skin. Eczema may cause dry skin.
Home Care Return to top
It may help to change your bathing habits:
Also, increase skin and body moisture:
Apply cool compresses to itchy areas, and try over-the-counter cortisone creams or lotions if your skin is inflamed. If this is not enough, talk to your doctor about possible prescription lotions.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will perform a physical examination with careful attention to all parts of your skin.
To better understand the cause of the dry skin, your doctor may ask:
References Return to top
Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2004.
Rakel P, ed. Conn’s Current Therapy 2005. 57th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2005:973-974.Update Date: 7/18/2007 Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.