What Are the Common Causes of Dry Spots on the Skin?

Erin J. Hill

The most common causes of dry spots on the skin include dry weather, dehydration, and using skin care products which don't agree with one's particular skin type. Occasionally other skin conditions may lead to dry skin, such as eczema. Other symptoms may also be present in any of these cases, such as redness and peeling.

Skin with eczema is very dry and sensitive.
Skin with eczema is very dry and sensitive.

Most dry spots on the skin are caused by sources outside the body. Using a cleanser which isn't formulated for one's particular skin type is one example. Occasionally products which are designed to moisturize the skin can actually dry it out if used in excess. This can include oil-based moisturizers, which can lead to continued dryness because the skin stops producing natural oils in response to the artificial ones being applied. Additionally, the chemicals found in some oil-based moisturizers may worsen certain skin conditions.

Eczema can cause dry skin spots.
Eczema can cause dry skin spots.

Dry weather can also cause dry spots on the skin, particularly if they are exposed to the elements. Skin on the face, hands, elbows, and lips is most susceptible. Patches at the bottoms of feet may also appear, especially in those who walk with bare feet on rough or especially hot or cold surfaces or those who wear heels frequently. These calluses are often cured using creams and abrasive stones or scrubs.

Allergic reactions may also cause dry spots on the skin, although they are usually accompanied by other symptoms as well such as redness and itching. Steroid creams are sometimes beneficial, although more severe reactions may require treatment by a medical professional. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include shortness of breath, hives, swelling of the tongue or throat, and dizziness.

Eczema is another cause of dry spots on the skin. The cause of this condition are not fully understood, although sensitivities to certain dietary habits, chemical, and dyes may be a factor. For minor cases an over the counter cream is usually recommended. More severe cases may require dietary changes as well as prescription strength topical ointment to relieve dryness and itching. Eczema which occurs during the first few years of life often subsides on its own.

Any dry skin which occurs with additional symptoms should be investigated further by medical professionals. If dryness seems to coincide with the use of a new medication, contact your doctor right away. Certain drugs can cause skin irritation as a symptom of a serious side effect.

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