As the name suggests Xerosis is medical term for dry skin. A lot
of people suffer from this problem especially during the winter.
Even though the winters in our city our mild we get a lot of cases
of Xerosis. This is because of the lack of humidity in the atmosphere.
In our skin we have a natural protective oil coating produced by
the oil glands present within the skin. If this protective oil covering
is removed due to any reason the skin becomes dry and this can lead
to problems like cracking and inflammation.
Many skin specialists like to differentiate between various types
of dry skin. Those who have dry skin from birth or have the inherited
form are said to be suffering from ICHTHYOSIS. Those who have acquired
dryness of skin later in life are said to be suffering from XEROSIS.
In reality it does not matter what medical term you give it, it's
the symptoms that need to be taken care of and treated.
WHAT CAUSES XEROSIS?
There are many factors which can contribute to causing Xerosis:-
1. Environmental factors - dry cold weather with low or
negligible humidity is one of the main factors responsible for Xerosis.
Also pollution present can affect the skin by drying it. Cold air
makes the body's defense mechanism draw the blood supply away from
the skin to the more vital organs. Unfortunately this reduces the
nourishment to the skin causing dryness.
2. Sun and ultraviolet rays - excessive exposure to the
sun can also cause dryness. In fact people who stay at a higher altitude
are more at risk for developing xerosis as the ultraviolet rays are
more harsh and powerful.
3. Artificial unhumidified air or heat - people who work
and stay more indoors where there is either artificial heating
or air-conditioning are more prone to developing dryness of the
4. Metabolic factors - people suffering
from certain metabolic disorders like Hypothyroidism have symptoms
of dryness of the skin.
5. Water - contrary to what we think excessive bathing and
working with water actually tends to dry the skin more. This could
be due to the chemicals used to purify the water. Also chlorinated
swimming pools cause Xerosis.
6. Detergent and soaps - the more chemicals you use on your
body and clothes the more dryness you are going to experience. These
detergents, cleaning agents and soaps tend to remove the moisture
from the skin causing dryness.
7. Age - as you age your skin tends to get dry because the
oil glands do not function in the same manner as when you were
younger. The loss of moisture from the skin is greater in aged
8. Clothing - rough harsh material causes irritation
of the skin which can cause Xerosis.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF XEROSIS?
Here are few of the common symptoms and signs of this kind of dryness
of the skin:-
a. The person will feel the dryness in the skin and there may be
a tendency to itch. This itching can lead to redness and inflammation
giving rise to dermatitis of the skin.
b. There is a typical dry scaly type of pattern of the skin. Some
people develop fine lines on their dry skin.
c. The inherited form may have fish scales type of appearance.
d. Some people also experience flaking of the skin.
e. Xerosis is a common problem in people suffering from diabetes
especially of the foot. Complications like ulcers and infection of
the skin can take place.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT AND TREAT XEROSIS?
There are many ways in which you can avoid Xerosis from happening
by taking care of your skin. Written below are a few tips which will
1. Bathing - do not take more than one bath a day unless
necessary. Repeated bathing with water causes dryness and removes
the protective oil layer of the skin. Ideally your bath time should
not exceed 15 minutes maximum whether you are taking a shower or
2. Temperature of water - hot water tends to dry the skin
more than cold water. Therefore while bathing Lukewarm water is the
best. Hot warm also causes irritation of the skin.
3. Soap - the more you bath the more soap you are going
to use. Soaps have a tendency of causing dryness. Use those soaps,
which have a moisturizing effect or are glycerine based. Also use
as little soap as possible. Avoid highly perfumed or strong deodrant
4. Do not rub or scrub your skin - while bathing lightly
apply the soap and do not scrub. Also while drying the skin after
a bath do not vigorously rub yourself dry. Gently pat the skin dry.
5. Detergents - use mild unscented washing powder if anyone
is suffering from Xerosis. Strong detergents with lot of chemicals
in them tend to cause more irritation of the skin. Washing clothes
or dishes is one job a person suffering from Xerosis should avoid
if possible or use other methods of prevention like wearing gloves.
6. Moisturizers - this is the most important point to remember.
Always use a moisturizer to prevent dryness of the skin. There are
hundreds of different kinds of products advertised and available
in the market. However you should be careful in choosing the correct
one. Emollients are the most effective of the lot. They do not allow
the moisture to evaporate from the surface of the skin. This should
be applied after a bath when the surface of the skin is still moist.
This can be re-applied several times during the day.
7. Use a sunscreen - it is extremely important to use a
sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of more than 30 if travelling
to higher altitudes or spending more time out in the sun. This is
also essential for children who play outdoor sports in the sun.
8. Clothes - as far as possible always wear skin-friendly
clothing. Avoid rough and harsh fabrics which irritate the skin.
Homoeopathy along with the lifestyle changes will definitely improve
the person's skin. The above tips must be followed as well as some
dietary changes should be made. Drink plenty of water throughout
the day. Avoid caffeinated and aerated beverages. Restrict your intake
of alcohol as it acts like a dehydrating agent on your skin. Avoid
eating junk and packet food and things like papad, pickles, farsan,
biscuits as they contain more salt.
In our system of medicine we take the detailed case history with
all the symptoms of the patient and treat accordingly.
This is a wonderful remedy for dry skin especially in the winter
Chapped hands and fingers, rough tips of fingers calls for Petroleum.
The patient says that he feels much better in summer and has no dryness
but come winter all his skin problems surface.
The skin of a Petroleum patient feels dry, parched, constricted,
as if the skin is dehydrated. There is redness, "itching", and bleeding
from the cracks. Here thick, greenish crusts are formed. Even wearing
clothes becomes a problem and is painful for the person suffering.
Petroleum 30, 5 pills four times a day will bring great relief.
As the name only suggests this is a very useful drug for treating
Xerosis. Here the patient will describe his symptoms saying that
he feels as if the skin is like leather. It is rough and cracked.
There may be inflammation of the skin and redness.
The patient will also complaint of intense itching and burning of
the skin. He feels as if something is stinging.
However he feels worse with cold application and better if something
warm is applied to the skin to which will reduce the itching and
Give Xerophyllum 200, 5 pills in repeated doses till the skin improves.
A 30 year old male came to my clinic with the problem of dry skin.
He had been suffering with this problem since many years and no matter
how many different creams and ointments he had applied the skin would
not get better. His skin appeared very dry and rough in nature.
There were small whitish scales over his skin which would flake off
and then re-appear. The itching was so intense that it was driving
him crazy. It was especially bad when he undressed and also after
bathing. Peculiarly the only thing that made him feel better was
On asking about his past illness he mentioned that he had suffered
from tuberculosis as a child and had been treated for it.
Tuberculinum 1M, 5 pills in constitutional doses were given to
him, which not only helped the skin tremendously but also gave him
a sense of well being.
Another interesting case I had was of a 35 year old lady with dry
skin. She could not stop itching her skin throughout the case taking.
The skin was dry like parchment paper, felt rough and scaly. Even
though there was so much itching I could not see any eruptions.
She kept picking at the scales and dead skin till it started bleeding.
This patient was extremely restless and could not sit still for a
minute. Also she had great anxiety about her problem and thought
there was something majorly wrong with her.
All her symptoms were worse at night time and from the cold. Applying
external heat and warm applications to the skin made her feel better.
I gave this lady Arsenic Alb 200, 5 pills 4 times a day which relieved
not only her itching but also calmed her anxiety and restlessness