The Battle Against Xerosis: Unveiling the Secrets of Managing Abnormally Dry Skin in Children

October 8th, 2023

Dry skin is a common complaint among adults, but when it comes to children, the concerns are often magnified. Known medically as xerosis, abnormally dry skin can not only be a discomfort but may also pave the way for other skin conditions. I'm Dr. Michael Nwaneri, a pediatrician and obesity medicine specialist, and I'm here to provide a comprehensive, evidence-based overview of xerosis in children—from causes and symptoms to diagnosis and management strategies.

Demystifying Xerosis: What Exactly is It?Xerosis in children

Xerosis is characterized by dry, cracked, or scaly skin. While it usually is benign, it can be a cause for concern if it leads to complications like eczema or bacterial infections. Often, it is a seasonal issue, peaking in winter months when humidity levels are low.

Culprits Behind the Dryness: Causes of Xerosis

Environmental Factors

  1. Low Humidity: Common in winter and in air-conditioned environments.
  2. Harsh Soaps: Chemical-laden soaps can strip the skin's natural oils.

Medical Conditions

  1. Eczema: Xerosis often accompanies eczema.
  2. Psoriasis: Though less common in children, this condition can cause dry skin.
  3. Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential fatty acids or vitamins.

Identifying the Signs: Symptoms of Xerosis

  1. Itchiness: Often the first noticeable sign.
  2. Rough, Flaky Skin: Particularly on the arms and legs.
  3. Redness and Inflammation: In more severe cases.
  4. Cracks or Fissures: Usually on the hands and feet.

Xerosis in children

Diagnosing Xerosis: When to Seek Help?

  1. Visual Examination: Generally enough for a diagnosis.
  2. Medical History: To rule out underlying conditions.
  3. Skin Tests: Rare but may be performed if associated with other conditions.

Battle Plans: Treatment and Management

  1. Moisturization: Key to managing xerosis. Choose creams over lotions.
  2. Humidifiers: To add moisture to indoor air.
  3. Gentle Cleansers: Avoid soaps with fragrances or harsh chemicals.
  4. Medicated Creams: In severe cases, corticosteroid creams may be prescribed.

Safeguarding the Fortress: Prevention Strategies

  1. Daily Skincare Routine: Consistency is vital.
  2. Adequate Hydration: Encourage children to drink plenty of water.
  3. Dietary Adjustments: Incorporate skin-friendly foods like omega-3 rich fish.

Conclusive Insights: A Soft Landing

Though xerosis can be distressing, understanding its causes and symptoms is the first step towards effective management. Regular skincare, lifestyle modifications, and medical interventions can significantly improve the quality of your child's skin.


  1. American Academy of Dermatology - Dry Skin
  2. National Eczema Association
  3. Journal of Pediatric Dermatology

Disclaimer: The information in this article is purely for educational purposes and should not replace professional medical advice.