Dry Skin Symptoms 

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Dry skin symptoms in people are generally the same. Skin is often driest on the arms, lower legs, and the sides of the abdomen. Other areas were dry skin is commonly found are the hands, face, elbows, and heels of feet. However, not everybody suffers from these symptoms to the same degree.

Symptoms vary depending on variables such as:

  • age
  • health
  • geographical location (cold and dry climates producing greater symptoms)
  • time spent outdoors.

There are two categories of dry skin symptoms. Basic dry skin symptoms are due to environmental factors or normal skin aging.

Basic Dry Skin Symptoms

dry flaky skin on hand
  • skin has a rough and dry texture instead of smooth
  • a loss of plumpness – skin appears shrunken or dehydrated
  • skin is dull in appearance
  • after showering, bathing, or swimming the skin feels and looks tight
  • flaking, scaling, or peeling of the skin is quite common
  • itchy feeling which is sometimes intense (so intense it may interfere with proper sleep)
  • calloused (toughened) skin
  • normal fine lines or wrinkles in the skin become much more visible
  • severe redness, inflamed areas, or tenderness in the skin
  • cracks in skin or deep cuts that may bleed which are signs of extremely dry skin

The other category of symptoms of dry skin is due to more serious conditions. These symptoms are more specific to the stated condition.

Ichthyosis Vulgaris (fish scale disease or fish skin disease)

This is a condition when the skin does not shed as it normally should. Instead, skin cells accumulate on the skin surface. The disease can be inherited, but is usually not present at birth, but rather develops after a few years. It may disappear during the adult years, but tends to return as the individual gets older. Symptoms for this condition are:

  • dry scales on skin surface which range in colour from white to brown
  • commonly found on lower legs where scales are thick and dark
  • may cause flaking of the scalp
  • may also be present as deep cracks on the palm of the hands and soles of the feet

Lamellar Ichthyosis

This is a condition that is present at birth and stays with the individual over his/her lifetime. Babies are born encased in a filmy membrane that sheds after 10 to 14 days. For individuals with this condition, it is a very disfiguring dry skin condition that causes a lot of distress. In addition to the characteristics stated above, other symptoms of this dry skin disease are:

  • skin is covered in scales which are either fine and white or thick and dark
  • more common on legs, but generally found all over body

Asteatotic Eczema

Symptoms for this condition are:

  • skin is dry, scaly, and with deep cracks (like a dry riverbed)
  • skin in this condition can become inflamed, itchy and will bleed
  • usually occurs on the shins and occasionally on the thighs, hands, and torso

More information on eczema can be found here.


Symptoms for psoriasis are:

  • red skin that has dry silver scales similar to dandruff
  • severe cases have cracked, bleeding skin with pus-filled blisters
  • psoriasis is a chronic condition that flares up periodically although an individual may go many years without symptoms
  • can occur at any age, but usually between the years of 15 to 35

More information on psoriasis can be found here.

Please note that dry skin or chapped skin may resemble other skin conditions or result from other disorders such as an under active thyroid or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Consult a doctor or dermatologist for dry skin symptoms that are more severe or persistent.

More dry skin information:

dry skin care | dry skin symptoms | causes | prevention | treatments | moisturizers | lotions | dermatitis

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