Dry skin, medically referred to as xeroderma, is a condition wherein the skin lacks the essential moisture it requires to remain supple and soft. This article delves into the various causes of dry skin, considering both environmental and health-related factors, and offers insights on prevention and treatment measures.

Understanding Dry Skin

Dry skin is characterized by a deficiency in moisture, making it feel coarse to touch. In more severe conditions, known as xerosis, the skin can become intensely dry, leading to flakiness, scaliness, and even cracking and bleeding.

Root Causes of Dry Skin

The skin, our body’s most expansive organ, acts as the initial physiological barrier against external factors. The stratum corneum (SC) of the epidermis predominantly upholds this barrier function. Two pivotal elements maintain the SC’s humidity: intercellular lipids and natural moisturizing factors. Any impairment to the skin barrier results in excessive water loss, culminating in dry skin. Factors contributing to dry skin include:

  • Congenital conditions like ichthyosis.
  • Low humidity environments, especially during winters.
  • Exposure to heaters, fires, and air conditioners.
  • Prolonged bathing or showering in hot water.
  • Use of harsh soaps and detergents.
  • Metabolic factors, notably thyroid deficiency.
  • Illnesses such as lymphoma, HIV infection, and sarcoidosis.
  • Certain medications, including nicotinic acid and protein kinase inhibitors


Dermatological Conditions and Dry Skin

Several dermatological disorders manifest dry skin as a primary symptom:

  • Atopic Dermatitis (AD): Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as atopic eczema, predominantly affects children. While its exact cause remains unknown, those with allergies or asthma are at a heightened risk. This condition often presents with dry skin itch, especially in diseases like AD and psoriasis. Such itching is triggered by pruritogens, leading to scratching and worsening of the dermatitis, known as the “itch-scratch cycle.”
  • Contact Dermatitis: It can be allergic or irritant. While the former arises from direct exposure to allergenic substances, the latter occurs when the skin’s protective layer gets damaged.
  • Xerosis in the Elderly: Xerosis is a common dry skin condition, affecting over 50% of those aged 65 and above. In the elderly, it’s linked to various skin changes: compromised skin barrier function, pH shifts, altered SC proteases, decreased sebaceous and sweat gland activity, and reduced oestrogen levels. These changes can induce itching.
  • Psoriasis: Characterized by an accelerated life cycle of skin cells, it results in scales and red patches. The condition, although chronic, is manageable
  • Ichthyosis: An inherited disorder where the skin doesn’t shed dead cells, leading to a thick scaly surface resembling fish scales.

Medical Conditions Associated with Dry Skin

In dermatological clinics, it’s evident that several medical conditions exacerbate dry skin and the accompanying itching:

  • Cancer: Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, and others, often result in skin side effects such as dry skin. While the focus in healthcare is usually on tumor response or severe side effects, skin problems from cancer therapy can significantly impact patients’ quality of life. A study in Seoul showed that hair loss was the top skin concern for cancer patients, followed by dry skin and nail changes. Across all cancer types, these issues persisted. However, except for hair loss, skin issues were linked to higher Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) scores, emphasizing the profound impact of skin-related side effects on the well- being of cancer patients
  • Renal Diseases: Chronic renal failure often manifests as skin dryness, affecting a significant percentage of patients on dialysis
  • Diabetes: Elevated blood glucose can cause rapid fluid loss, leading to skin dryness. Neuropathy, stemming from prolonged uncontrolled diabetes, further compounds skin dryness.

The Predominance of Itch in Dry Skin Conditions

Chronic itching, often seen in dry skin conditions like xerosis and AD, not only causes physical discomfort but also significantly impacts patients’ mental well- being, leading to sleep disturbances and increased anxiety. These skin issues can erode self-esteem. However, modern skincare offers solutions like emollients, such as Medsons Aqua Dermal Basic Aqueous Cream, which moisturize and gently cleanse, helping preserve skin health.

The Essence of Emollients:

Emollients, at their core, are essential for those who grapple with dry or compromised skin. They work by filling the spaces between skin cells with fats (lipids), thereby creating a smooth skin surface. This mechanism not only aids in retaining moisture but also reduces evaporation, ensuring the skin remains hydrated longer. Emollients like the Medsons Aqua Dermal Basic Aqueous Cream are prime examples. It is not just an emollient but also serves a dual purpose as a soap substitute. This ensures cleansing without compromising on the skin’s natural protective layer.

Diverse Moisturizers for Diverse Needs:

Moisturizers aren’t a one-size-fits-all remedy. They are typically classified into:

  • Occlusives: These are heavy moisturizers that form a barrier on the skin, minimizing water loss. They are particularly beneficial for extremely dry skin
  • Humectants: They draw moisture from the air and supply it to the skin’s surface. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are common humectants.
  • Emollients: As discussed, they smooth the skin by filling in the gaps between skin cells
  • Ceramides: These are naturally occurring lipids in the skin and are crucial for maintaining the skin barrier

In the case of Medsons Aqua Dermal Basic Aqueous Cream, it appears to act predominantly as an emollient and potentially an occlusive, giving symptomatic relief from dryness and itching.

Breaking the Itch Cycle of Dryness

Moisturizers, especially emollients, play a pivotal role in disrupting the vicious cycle of dryness, itching, and eczema. Dry skin can instigate itching, leading to scratching, which then exacerbates eczema or other skin conditions. Applying a quality moisturizer offers instant relief by hydrating the skin and reducing the urge to scratch.

The Medsons Aqua Dermal Itch-Relief Cream amplifies this effect with its menthol component, providing both a cooling sensation and immediate itch relief. It’s a testament to how moisturizers can be tailored to address specific skin concerns beyond just hydration.

Safest Ingredients in Moisturizers

In the vast landscape of skincare ingredients, certain compounds have established themselves as exceptionally safe for a myriad of skin types. Petroleum, glycerine, mineral oil, and paraffin are known for their emollient properties, sealing in moisture and softening the skin. Aloe vera, rich in vitamins and antioxidants, offers hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits. Shea butter, sourced from the African shea tree, is renowned for its moisturizing and skin-soothing attributes. Menthol provides a cooling sensation, alleviating itching and irritation, while sodium coco sulfate (SCS) acts as a gentle cleansing agent. Conversely, some ingredients, such as Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), parabens, artificial colors, and fragrances, have been under scrutiny due to potential irritative and allergenic effects, making them less favorable in sensitive skincare formulations.

Medsons Products using SCS and the Role of Menthol

Sodium coco sulfate (SCS) stands out as a commendable alternative to the more commonly used SLS in skincare. The primary distinction lies in their sources; while SLS is derived from petroleum, SCS is extracted from coconut, making it a more skin-friendly option. Medsons Aqua Dermal Basic Aqueous Cream, with its SCS component, ensures effective cleansing without the harsh effects associated with SLS. Furthermore, the inclusion of menthol in Medsons Aqua Dermal Itch-Relief Cream is noteworthy. By providing instant cooling and relief, menthol plays a critical role in disrupting the itch-eczema cycle, granting immediate respite to those plagued by persistent itching.



Skincare is a nuanced field that demands both precision and a comprehensive understanding. The selection of the right moisturizer goes beyond mere surface-level hydration; it’s about delving deeper and addressing the foundational issues of the skin. In this realm, the Medsons range distinctly shines with its scientifically-backed and targeted formulations.

Their products are meticulously crafted, steering clear of common irritants such as SLS, parabens, and artificial fragrances. This meticulous approach ensures that users receive optimal skincare benefits, minimizing potential setbacks and allergic reactions. The integrity of Medsons’ products is a testament to their commitment to deliver effective care that harmonizes with the skin’s natural state.

It’s especially notable that Medsons products come recommended for those suffering from dermatitis caused by aggressive treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In these challenging conditions, where the skin’s barrier is compromised, the soothing properties of Medsons’ offerings prove invaluable. Their specific inclusion of SCS and Menthol in their formulations not only helps in alleviating devastating itching conditions but also promotes a sense of relief and rejuvenation. In conclusion, Medsons stands as a beacon in the skincare world, providing solutions that are both effective and considerate of the skin’s delicate balance.

References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6192901/

About the Author

Dr. Erum Siddiqui is a seasoned Dermatologist, trained at the prestigious College of physician and Surgeons in Karachi, Pakistan. With over a decade of experience, she specializes in treating various skin conditions, from acne and eczema to skin pigmentation disorders and skin cancer. Dr. Siddiqui’s commitment to skin health extends to her advocacy for clean, hypoallergenic skincare products that leverage both natural and synthetically derived ingredients.

Her research contributions to multiple medical journals cover critical investigations into conditions like androgenic alopecia, female pattern hair loss, and insulin resistance in acne patients. Beyond her clinical practice, she tests and recommends an array of skincare and beauty products, providing expert advice drawn from her professional experience. As a dedicated member of the Pakistan Dermatology Association, she stays current with the latest advancements in dermatology, continually aiming to provide her patients with effective treatments and beneficial product recommendations.

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