Xerotic Eczema (winter itch) - Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Pictures

Xerotic eczema is also called 'winter itch, it is a skin disorder that is characterized by the presence of extremely dry skin. Dry skin is often called xerosis and hence the name. The name has its origins in a Greek word called ‘xeros’ which means dry.
Xerosis should not be confused with psoriasis which is an extremely serious condition or with another disease known as ‘cirrhosis’ of the liver.

Symptoms of xerotic eczema

• Xerotic eczema is a skin condition that is common and not infectious.
• It tends to occur more frequently during the winter months or during fall when there is low humidity. However, most cases of Xerotic eczema that lead to dry skin result from excessive bathing or showering
• There is progressive drying out of the skin during the cooler months.
• Many people afflicted with xerotic eczema often refer to it as ‘Winter Itch’ because the condition tends to worsen during this season
• A greater frequency of baths can lead to irritation of the skin, increased dryness as well as itching.
• The areas of the body such as the arms, the legs and the trunk region have deficient oil glands and hence such areas are more prone to be afflicted with xerotic eczema
• The drying out of the skin causes the uppermost layer to become stiff and dead. When one bends a body part that has a layer of dead skin, it results in the development of cracks. This can lead to the development of deep rooted fissures on the skin which can become inflamed and irritated leading to severe itching

Causes of xerotic eczema

• One of the most surprising causes of dry skin is water. One usually thinks that water helps the retention of moisture and the prevention of dry skin. But this is not the case. Water takes away all the essential skin oils that are necessary to retain the skin-water. It is the presence of this natural water on skin that gives it the soft and supple texture. But the normal standards of the society ask for vigorous hygiene that results in excessive cleanliness and hence dry skin.
• The skin has a natural layer of oil that protects it from excessive dryness. However, when one has excessive baths, this protective layer of oil is washed away as well along with the dirt. This leads to the extreme dryness of the skin that is symptomatic of xerotic eczema.
• One can safely say that xerotic eczema is a condition that is of recent development, because of the increased standards of personal cleanliness. In the olden days, the number of baths was limited to one a day or even one in two days and there were no cases of the condition. Thus, the few baths actually provided the opportunity for the re-accumulation of the layer of oil on the skin.
• Xerotic eczema does not affect only one particular age group or gender. Men and women as well as children, teenagers, middle-aged and older individuals, all have also reported cases of xerotic eczema on the less oily regions of their body. It may however be noted that older people are more prone to increased dryness of the skin than younger ones.
• Besides age, excessive and numerous baths and colder weather there is one more factor that results in faster drying of the skin leading to xerotic eczema. This is the use of anti-bacterial soaps which have an increasing tendency to dry out the skin. Hence it is essential to choose the right type of soap or bathing items to prevent the drying out of the oil layer on the skin.

Treatment of xerotic eczema

• The best way to treat xerotic eczema is to decrease the number of baths to a minimum of one a day or even one in two or three days. This will help in the re-accumulation of oil on the affected areas of the body. Once the condition has disappeared, individuals can revert to a single bath a day.
• One can get an effective bath and remain clean by following the basic principle of baths that consists of the three ‘gets’, i.e. “get in, get the body clean and then get out”.
• The use of excessive bath oils along with the bath water can result in shower accidents such as slipping and falling. Hence it is advised to use only some amounts of bath oil to apply it on the affected areas of the skin that are already wet. Once the bath is complete, one should use a soft towel to lightly dry off the water from the body so as to prevent the rubbing-off of the bath oil.
• In case one has an extreme case of xerotic eczema, one can use creams or lotions to soothe the dry, inflamed and itchy skin.
• In case the affected areas are very large, then the use of lotions instead of creams is recommended. One must also take care to apply enough amount of lotion to keep the affected areas moist and soft.

Winter itch (Xerotic Eczema) pictures

Here are the pictures of winter itch, find out how the skin looks when affected by xerotic eczema. 


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