Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

Xeroderma

(Xerosis)

By

James G. H. Dinulos

, MD, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Last full review/revision May 2021| Content last modified May 2021
Click here for Patient Education
Topic Resources

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

  • Frequent bathing, particularly if using harsh soaps

Severe dry skin on the hands may become inflamed, leading to hand dermatitis (hand eczema).

Diagnosis of xeroderma is based on clinical evaluation. Xeroderma can usually be differentiated by inflammatory disorders such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis by the absence of erythema in xeroderma. Unlike the fine white scales of xeroderma, ichthyosis is characterized by fish-like scales.

Treatment of Xeroderma

  • 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, alpha-glycolic acids (eg, lactic, glycolic, and pyruvic acids), and beta-glycolic acids (eg, salicylic acid) are very commonly used.

  • Increasing fluid intake and using humidifiers also help.

Patients who develop hand dermatitis sometimes require topical corticosteroids to decrease inflammation and maintain the skin barrier.

Click here for Patient Education
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
Professionals also read

Test your knowledge

Pressure Injury
Pressure ulcers (PUs) are defined as areas of necrosis and ulceration where tissues are compressed between bone and hard surfaces, such as a bed or chair. There are many risk factors for PUs, which include age > 65 years, decreased mobility, and impaired sensation, among others. Of the main factors that influence the development of PUs, which of the following contributes to PUs but is not a direct cause?  
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
 

Also of Interest

 
TOP