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What is xerosis? 

Xerosis (pronounced "zeer-o-sis") is the medical term for dry skin.  Xerosis may become flaky and itchy, a condition known as "Pruritis". When it becomes red and painful, it is known as "Eczema". 

What causes xerosis?

Xerosis may be caused by several factors:

  • Excessive washing.  (It may seem like bathing should be helpful to treat dry skin, but washing the feet will remove oils in the skin, thereby drying it.)
  • Using harsh soaps.  (Many soaps will remove oils even more effectively than plain water.  Good choices are moisturizing soaps.) 
  • Neuropathy associated with medical conditions such as diabetes.  (Alterations in the function of nerves will alter how the skin regulates its moisture content.)
  • Certain endocrine (hormonal) disorders.
  • Excessive use of certain topical medications that may dry the skin. 
  • Winter weather.  (Home heating systems usually dry the air, thereby drying the skin.)
  • Certain types of bacterial skin infections.
  • Fungal skin infections.

How do you treat xerosis? 

Treatment of xerosis usually involves one of the following methods:

  • Moisturizers (creams that put moisture back into the skin). 
  • Emollients (creams that prevent moisture in the skin from evaporating.) 
  • Oils (Preferably applied directly to the skin and not in a bath, which again, may dry the skin.)
  • Keratolytics (topical agents that remove the dead, flaky portions of skin.)  Examples include the Urea creams (such as Uremol and Ultramide), Lactic acid creams (such as Lac-Hydrin), Hyaluronic Acid creams (such as Dormer 211), Salicylic Acids creams (such as Kerasal).
  • Fungal medications  There are many fungal medications--sprays, liquids, oils, powders, creams, ointments, lotions, and pills--that may resolve xerosis caused by fungal infection.  The most common group of anti-fungals is the "-azoles" group (Econazole, Miconazole, Ticonazole, etc.)
  • Prescription medications When over-the-counter agents fail, prescription medications from your podiatrist may be necessary. 



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The Achilles Foot Health Centre
S. A. Schumacher, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., F.A.C.F.A.O.M.  
Dr. S. A. Schumacher, Podiatric Corporation  

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