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by James G. H. Dinulos, MD

Xeroderma is dry skin that is neither inherited nor associated with systemic abnormalities.

Xeroderma results from delayed shedding of the superficial cells of the skin, yielding fine white scale. Risk factors for xerosis include the following:

  • Residence in a dry, cold climate

  • Older age

  • Atopic dermatitis

  • Frequent bathing, particularly if using harsh soaps

Diagnosis of xeroderma is based on clinical evaluation.


  • Maximization of skin moisture

Treatment of xeroderma is focused on keeping the skin moist:

  • Frequency of bathing should decrease and tepid, rather than hot, water, should be used.

  • Skin moisturizers should be used frequently, particularly immediately after bathing, to decrease transepidermal water loss. Thicker moisturizers such as petrolatum- or oil-based moisturizers are more effective than water-based lotions, although water-based lotions may be better tolerated in warmer climates. Moisturizers with additives such as ceramides, α-glycolic acids (eg, lactic, glycolic, and pyruvic acids), and β-glycolic acids (eg, salicylic acid) are very commonly used.

  • Increasing fluid intake and use of humidifiers also helps.

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