What is dry skin?Dry skin, also called xerosis, is a common problem. Dry skin is a very common problem with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. The climate in central Illinois and specifically Champaign-Urbana makes dry skin symptoms more severe, especially for our students who come from more humid geographical areas. Winter is especially drying here due to high
wind (with nothing to block it), cold dry air, and indoor heating systems that can substantially dry indoor air.
Dry skin can affect any part of the body, as the only significant oil glands we have are on the "T-zone" of the central face, armpits, and groin. Arms and legs are most frequently affected. The most common symptom is itching, which can be mildly annoying to severely intense, often disturbing sleep. The most severe form of dry skin is called Nummular Eczema (comes from Nummus meaning coin-shaped). It appears as circular pink to red patches of dry, rough, and flaky skin on the arms and legs, primarily, or the trunk. The mid-back between the shoulderblades is often affected by both dry skin and Nummular Eczema. This area is also the most difficult area for a person to reach with lotion.
Dry skin has a low level of sebum and can be prone to sensitivity. The skin has a parched look caused by its inability to retain moisture. It usually feels "tight" and uncomfortable after washing unless some type of moisturizer or skin cream is applied. Chapping and cracking are signs of extremely dry, dehydrated skin. Dryness is exacerbated by wind, extremes of temperature and air-conditioning, all of which cause the skin to flake, chap and feel tight. This type of skin is tightly drawn over bones. It looks dull, especially on the cheeks and around the eyes. There may be tiny expression lines on these spots and at the comers of the mouth.