What is Xeroderma?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2019
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Xeroderma is a condition that causes affected individuals to experience abnormally dry skin. This term is a combination of two Greek words, xeros and derma, which mean dry and skin, respectively. There are several factors that may contribute to the development of xeroderma. These include Vitamin A deficiency, overexposure to sunlight and other diseases, like diabetes and thyroid disorders. It can also be a side effect of some medications.

Dry skin can affect everyone, but it is more commonly seen in older individuals. This can be due to the decreasing amounts of natural oil in the skin as one gets older. Areas of the body usually affected by xeroderma are the lower parts of the legs and the arms.

Most cases of xeroderma are often mild and temporary. Other people, however, may experience it for longer periods. These cases can be frequently treated by using over-the-counter creams or lotions that can be applied to the affected skin areas. Dermatologists, doctors who specializes in skin diseases, can help individuals experiencing these problems.

Some individuals may form breaks in the skin due to severe dryness or even to scratching. Bacteria may gain access to these skin breaks and may cause infection. Treating these skin infections generally involves the use of antibiotics, in addition to the medications that may be given to address skin dryness.


Some of the most common diseases associated with dry skin are xeroderma pigmentosum, ichthyosis, and eczema. Xeroderma pigmentosum is a serious, but rare, form of dry skin. Individuals with this condition often inherit the defective genes from both parents. These defective genes usually make the body incapable of repairing damaged cells brought about by sun exposure.

Aside from having thin, dry skin, individuals with xeroderma pigmentosum are also very sensitive to sunlight, and may have tendencies to suffer from premature skin aging as well as skin cancer. They may even develop severe sunburn with minimal sun exposure. These individuals are often advised to avoid sun exposure, and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen if going out cannot be avoided.

Ichthyosis is another inherited skin disorder associted with xeroderma. Affected individuals usually have thick, rough skin that appears like fish scales. Eczema is a skin inflammation that often affects infants, children, and even adults. Its symptoms include dry skin, frequently accompanied by redness as well as itching. Affected body parts include the neck, ankles, face, and the inner part of the elbows. Infants usually have it in the cheeks, forehead, and scalp.



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