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Same or next day appointments available with a board certified dermatologist

Dry and scaly skin on the leg of a dark-skinned individual

Dry Skin

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

Portrait of Ryan Harris, MD

Dr. Ryan Harris, MD is a board certified dermatologist located in Meridian, Idaho who has over a decade of experience in treating every type of rash or skin problem including dry skin.  If you have any skin issues that are causing you concern or decreasing your quality of life,  contact our office to schedule an appointment today.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin (medically referred to as xerosis) can be due to a variety of external factors as well as internal sources such as genetic or underlying skin diseases. Even though Boise is called the city of trees and there is quite a bit of vegetation in our valley, the reality is we are in the middle of a desert. The lack of humidity in the air is a major reason why people suffer from dry skin. During the winter when heaters run indoors, the air has even less humidity and further dries out the skin. Other external factors, such as using harsh soaps that strip the skin of natural oils, can also dry out the skin. 

 

Various medications such as diuretics can cause dry skin. These medications are commonly used to lower blood pressure and work by causing the body to excrete larger amounts of water. Internal diseases such as thyroid, liver, kidney disease, or even diabetes can also be a cause. There are also several genetic disorders that cause the body to produce an ineffective skin barrier which leads to dry skin.   

My skin is scaly, does that mean I have dry skin?

There are a variety of skin conditions that cause the skin to look dry and scaly that may not be due to dryness at all. Conditions such as psoriasis can mimic dry skin. Also infections such as a fungal infection can be scaly. This is commonly seen on the bottom of the feet. Seborrheic dermatitis, which is due to a yeast that naturally occurs on the skin, can also be mistaken for dry skin. There are numerous other conditions that can mimic dry skin. While using lotion and other treatments for dry skin can help these disorders in some cases, proper therapy aimed at the underlying cause is usually needed to fully treat the skin. 

How is dry skin treated?

There are many strategies for dealing with dry skin. Usually you will have to use multiple methods to fully keep your skin properly hydrated. Proper care for dry skin usually starts with bathing. We recommend avoiding hot showers and using mild soaps such as Dove or Cetaphil. Once you have bathed, immediately towel dry and apply a thick moisturizer such as Cetaphil or Cerave cream. Moisturizers should be used frequently throughout the day.   

When should I see a dermatologist about "dry skin"?

If you have tried the strategies mentioned above, specifically using a moisturizer many times a day, and are not improving you should strongly consider seeing a dermatologist. If your doctor determines you have something other than dry skin, they can recommend or prescribe the proper treatment to get your skin back to normal. While most skin diseases that mimic dry skin are not harmful, there are rare diseases that may appear as dry skin that can be dangerous, so evaluation by a dermatologist is a good idea if your skin issue doesn't improve. Even if it is determined you only have dry skin, your dermatologist can help personalize recommendations to help your skin and improve your quality of life. 

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

Portrait of Ryan Harris, MD

Dr. Ryan Harris, MD is a board certified dermatologist located in Meridian, Idaho who has over a decade of experience in treating every type of rash or skin problem including dry skin.  If you have any skin issues that are causing you concern or decreasing your quality of life,  contact our office to schedule an appointment today.