Xerosis represents a pathological variant of dry skin, that firstly appears with an extreme skin dryness. However, xerosis doesn’t concern only skin, it is a disorder, that can appear also at the level of the nasal mucosa or at the oral and ocular level.
Xerosis cutis
Xerosis cutis is a technical term used to indicate the progressive drying of skin: when in the horned layer, the quantity of water falls below 20%, skin appears dry and dehydrated. Skin reacts at the lack of water with excessive desquamations, cracks and chaps, which are typical effects of xerosis cutis.
If the situation worsens, and the quantity falls below 10%, the person may suffer from nuisances like itch and, in the most serious cases, also pain. Skin, because of xerosis, doesn’t appear anymore elastic and it loses its natural plasticity. Everytime xerosis appears, also two morphological aspects come with it: squames and rhagades. Squames represent an accumulation of dead corneal cells, linked to the surface of skin, determined by a local inflammation, that stimulates an extreme cells turnover, so it is established a chain process that could favour the onset of allergies and irritations of other origins. Xerosis cutis, as we see, is not dangerous, unless it is associated to other factors, that can worsen the initial situation. In case of xerosis, the natural barrier that prevents an excessive loss of trans-epidermic water (TEWL) appears alterated: so it happens that the water, which we have lost in form of vapor, is too high and so it increases the suffering of skin. The alimentation and the weather may influence in a very strong way the appearence of xerosis; indeed an alimentation without fruits and vegetables and a low intake of water may have a negative effect also on skin. The arid and dry weather can strenghten xerosis, because it conditions skin’s hydration: it is to say that xerosis intensified itself with the increasing of humidity and of the external temperature. Other aspects that can strenghten the presence of xerosis are: age (it’s easy for old people to have a drier skin than young people) , frequency of the exposure to sun (tanned skin is drier than a not tanned skin) and genetic predisposition. Xerosis cutis is not a contagious disease, neither can evolve in serious pathological forms, however it can have its origin from, for example, atopic dermatitis. All the skin’s manifestations caused by xerosis can be solved, putting some cosmetics or herbal products on the damaged area; the best substances to use against xerosis is vaseline, more in general all the products against xerosis must contain lipids (preferring ceramides and sterols), hydrophylic substances, like collagen and hyaluronic acid, besides this the preparation would have to contain molecules able to smooth the skin (allantoin) and alpha hydroxy-acids. It is important to choose moisturizer and nourishing and emollient products, that have to be chosen with attention, beacause irritant substances can worsen the xerosis; indeed, it was demonstrated that the use of strong detergents tend to export part of the hydrolipic film, which feeds and protect the skin, that is altered using soaps and strong substances.