Penn State Hershey Medical Center home Penn State Hershey Medical Center home Penn State Hershey: Patient Care home Penn State Hershey: Education home Penn State Hershey: Research home Penn State Hershey: Community home
Penn State Hershey Health Information Library
  Library Home
  Find A Physician
  Find A Practice
  Request An Appointment
  Search Clinical Studies
  Classes and Support Groups
  Ask A Health Librarian
  Subscribe to eNewsletters

Penn State Hershey Health Information Centers
  Bone and Joint

        Follow Us



Xerosis is an abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes.

Alternative Names

Asteatotic eczema; Eczema craquele


Dry skin usually gets worse during the winter.

Older people are usually affected more by this condition.


Your skin may get dry, scaly, itchy, and red. You may also have fine cracks on the skin.

The problem is usually worse on the arms and legs.


Treatments include:

  • Moisturizers, especially creams or lotions that contain urea and lactic acid
  • Topical steroids -- for areas that get very inflamed and itchy


To prevent xerosis:

  • Do not expose your skin to water more often than needed.
  • Use cool bath water.
  • Choose gentle skin cleansers that are free from dyes and perfumes.


Beiber T, Bussmann C. Atopic dermatitis. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 12.

Gilchrest BA. Skin disorders. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 38.

Habif TP. Eczema and hand dermatitis. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 3.

Review Date: 11/12/2014
Reviewed By: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.