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(7) Skin Disorders

 What causes dry skin?

Xerosis (dry skin) is a common dermatological skin condition. Dry skin, or xerotic eczema, can be labeled as xerosis, eczema craquele (like a pattern of cracked porcelain), or asteatotic eczema (Plate 2).

The incidence increases with age and is common in older individuals.

The reduced production of sebum also may play a role in dry skin. Sebum contains wax esters, triglycerides, and squalene, all of which protect the skin from the environment. Certain individuals receiving cholesterol-reducing drugs exhibit dry skin.

Natural moisturizing factor, a substance that retains water inside keratinocytes and renders them plump, also plays an important role in the pathophysiology of dry skin.

Defects in the stratum corneum or barrier can result in transepidermal water loss, which dehydrates the skin and imparts a dry appearance. An impaired barrier may also make skin more susceptible to damage from exogenous sources such as plants, chemicals, and even water.

Terms:

Xerotic eczema - A skin condition in which the skin is extremely dry and cracked.

Stratum corneum - The outermost layer of the epidermis that acts as a barrier to prevent the exchange of chemicals between the body and its surroundings.

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