SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Dry skin is often just a temporary problem — one you experience only in winter, for example — but it may be a lifelong concern. And although skin is often driest on your arms and lower legs, this pattern can vary considerably from person to person. What's more, signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health status, your locale, the amount of time you spend outdoors and the cause of the problem.
If you have dry skin, you're likely to experience one or more of the following:
- A feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming
- Skin that appears shrunken or dehydrated
- Skin that feels and looks rough rather than smooth
- Itching (pruritus) that sometimes may be intense
- Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling
- Fine lines or cracks
- Deep fissures that may bleed
When to see a doctor
Most cases of dry skin respond well to lifestyle and home remedies. See your doctor if:
- Your skin doesn't improve in spite of your best efforts
- Dry skin is accompanied by redness
- Dryness and itching interfere with sleeping
- You have open sores or infections from scratching
- You have large areas of scaling or peeling skin
- Dry skin and keratosis pilaris. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/skin_dry.html. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Fazio SB, et al. Pruritus. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Baumann L. Cosmetics and skin care in dermatology. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3007166&searchStr=xerosis. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 14, 2010.