“Xeroderma may occur alone, in the setting of other dermatologic conditions (i.e., atopic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, etc.), or in individuals with a family history of dry skin,” explained Gade et al.2
While anyone can develop dry skin, according to Mayo Clinic patients are more likely to develop the condition if they:
- Are over 40, as the skin's ability to retain moisture diminishes with age
- Live in cold, windy conditions, or low-humidity climates
- Have a job that requires them to immerse their hands in water, such as nursing or hairstyling
- Use their hands to work with cement, clay, or soil
- Swim frequently in chlorinated pools
- Have certain diseases or conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or malnutrition4
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) explained that the goals of treatment are to:
- Soothe skin by getting rid of the itch, pain, and other symptoms.
- Give skin what it’s missing so that it can heal.
- Teach patients how to prevent the dry skin from returning.
They stressed how essential customised treatment plans are as each patient has unique needs which may include moisturiser, treatment for any underlying skin conditions, and a plan to help protect their skin.5
“Cleansing the skin with lukewarm water and applying a thick moisturiser immediately after bathing may repair the epidermal skin barrier function and restore hydration,” said Gade et al.2 “Treatment of xeroderma should focus on restoring physiologic lipids in the epidermis, enhancing skin moisturisation, optimising skin barrier function, and promoting epidermal differentiation.” According to Gade et al. commonly recommended strategies include:
- Infrequent bathing and using lukewarm water
- Use of mild cleansers
- Routine use of skin moisturisers: “Oil-based creams are thicker in consistency than water-based lotions and are more effective in providing moisturisation. Ointments are greasier in texture and particularly useful for preventing transepidermal water loss. Moisturisers should be applied to damp skin immediately after bathing, as this will decrease evaporation.
- Utilising room humidifiers, especially during the winter months.
- Staying hydrated with adequate fluid intake.
They further explained that products containing active ingredients including humectants, occlusives, and emollients may improve skin texture and hydration. “Clinicians may also prescribe topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors if xeroderma is accompanied by pruritus or dermatitis,”2 Gade et al. said.