Dry skin, also called xerosis, most commonly occurs on the scalp, lower legs, arms, hands, knuckles, the sides of the abdomen, and thighs. Patients may experience scaling or visible peeling of the outermost skin layer, itching, and cracking of skin.
Dry skin occurs more often in the winter where the cold air outside and the hot air inside creates a low relative humidity. This causes the skin to lose moisture and it may crack and peel. Bathing or hand washing too frequently, especially if one is using harsh soaps, can contribute to xerosis.
Repeated application of emollients or skin lotions/creams to the affected area will likely result in quick alleviation of dry skin. In particular, applications of highly occlusive barriers to moisture, such as petrolatum, vegetable oils/butters, and mineral oil have been shown to provide excellent results.