Dry Skin

Excessive drying of the skin is a common problem that may also occur in a number of disease states. Dry skin is unpleasant, sometimes it is itchy and it has slightly slower wound healing.


Physical factors

Dry air may contribute to skin dryness, air conditioned environment is usually blamed. Hand skin is dry by frequent exposure to water such as in cleaning ladies or canteen workers (doing the dishes). Water washes away natural protective oily cover of the skin. Similarly, people with excessive adherence to hygiene who wash their hands too frequently also have problems with dry skin.


Dehydrated skin loses fluids, becomes thin and dry. Parchment skin is a severe form of dry and usually dehydrated skin in the elderly.

Untreated diabetes

Untreated diabetes leads to elevation of blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). Sugar leaks into urine and takes with minerals and water. Dehydration and dry skin is therefore typical for hyperglycemic state. On the contrary, hypoglycemic state is accompanied with moist sweaty skin.


Some drugs undoubtedly cause skin dryness. Diuretic agents are great example. These drugs increase water losses in kidneys and are great in heart failure management. Overdose with diuretics may, however, cause severe dehydration with dry skin. Retinoids are other causative factor of dry skin. These preparations are used in treatment of acne and dryness of skin and lips is really common side-effect.

Underactive thyroid gland

Hypothyroidism among other reduces production of protective substances in the skin and causes its dryness. On the contrary, patients with overactive thyroid gland tend to have sweaty skin.

Atopic eczema

This allergic skin disease has many forms; some of them manifest with excessive dryness and skin itching.


Lack of proteins, minerals and vitamins also has effect on the quality of skin. Dry and weakened skin is present in zinc and vitamin C deficiency.


Psoriasis is an unpleasant chronic autoimmune disorder of the skin. It manifests with skin rash accompanied with itchy and dry skin.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources