How is it possible?

That we spend our entire lives searching for the right products to prevent acne and skin cancer

when science can already deliver these

Dry Skin on Body Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Signs & symptoms of dry skin on the body

Dry skin can occur all over the body, although the most commonly affected areas include the hands, face, elbows, legs, feet, scalp and arms. Often, the dry skin patches develop in areas which are more exposed than others such as exposure to cold air in winter, although dry skin can be caused by skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

When skin on the body becomes very dry, it may feel extremely tight, scaly or leathery and often is itchy or even painful. For extremely dry skin, the affected areas may feel rough, cracked and sore. However, it may not be obvious that dryness is the cause of these skin symptoms depending on the severity of the condition and the area of the body affected.

  • Mild dry skinAt first, you may only notice a light tightness or mild roughness on your skin. As the skin loses further moisture, the patches of dry skin will become rougher and may have a chapped or scaly appearance. These dry, flaky skin patches are likely to itch and cause mild irritation.
  • Severe dry skinExtremely dry skin on the body occurs when dry patches remain untreated or if the dry skin treatment used is ineffective. The skin may become damaged, feeling extremely tight, rough and potentially cracked and bleeding. Very dry skin is often extremely itchy and prone to irritation. Learn more about rough and cracked body skin.

Dry, scaly skin

Large, scale-like flakes are the result of the loss of the outer layer of the epidermis. Skin looks dry and cracked and starts to peel, leading to a scaly appearance. The scales then redden and itch. Since scaly skin can be quite visible, especially on areas like the hands and face, scaling skin can impact a person's confidence.

Dry skin on hands

Your skin has the power to fight fine lines: Catalyse your skin to do more

Learn more

Dry skin on the hands, including flaky and cracked skin on the knuckles, fingers and palms is particularly common, especially if you are washing your hands frequently or more than often or are using hand sanitizer. Find out more about how to treat dry skin on hands in our guide Dry Hands: Causes & Treatment.

Dry skin on feet

Dry skin on the feet, in particular dry skin patches in between the toes and around the heel are also common. This is because there are various parts of the feet which are weight-bearing areas, such as the balls of our feet, as well as areas which often experience friction such as the ankles and soles. This friction and pressure can cause damage, causing dry, peeling skin to form. In severe cases, the dry patches of skin can become cracked and sore such as cracked heels which is often painful. For specific information about treating extremely dry skin on the feet, read our guide on How To Treat Dry, Cracked Skin On Feet and Hands.

Dry skin conditions

ishonest No.312 - Prevent Acne

No.312 - Prevent Acne

Dry skin on the body can also be related to certain skin conditions:

  • Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin. Most people will have experienced xerosis at some point in their life, although more severe cases are often long- lasting and require you to tailor your routine to your skins needs.
  • Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis are also linked to dryness. Skin that is affected by these conditions typically reddens, becomes flaky, and feels very itchy.
  • Discoid eczema causes circular dry skin patches on the body. They typically appear on the torso and lower body and do not usually affect the facial or scalp areas.
  • Metabolic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and kidney disease, can also increase the risk of dry skin on the body.
  • Sensitive skin is a common reason for dry skin on the body, it commonly comes from dehydration but some peoples skin can be naturally sensitive.


If you are worried or unsure about your symptoms, or they are becoming worse, we recommend that you see your doctor or make a request to see a dermatologist for a face-to-face consultation.

If you need further information to help you identify the cause of your skin complaint, and which treatment route to take, the skin test may be a useful diagnostic tool.

Causes of very dry skin on the body

What cause uneven skin tone and how to treat it?

Learn more

There are many causes of dry skin on the body, as well as contributing factors which can worsen symptoms of dryness. These range from environmental influences and inadequate skin care to medical conditions like Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis. There are also internal influences which affect our skins ability to stay hydrated and hold onto moisture.

External causes of dry skin on the body

External triggers of very dry skin on the body

There are various external triggers which can cause dry skin on the body:

Environmental causes of dry skin:

Internal factors that can cause dry skin:

ishonest No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

Genetic Influences:

The skin's moisture balance is also influenced by genetics. Our genes influence whether someone has oily skin, dry skin or another skin type. Although skin types are inherited, individuals will not necessarily have the same skin type as their parents. However, skin conditions like Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, diabetes and ichthyosis often have a genetic link.


Dry skin is a side effect of many medications, including diuretic blood pressure medications which work by increasing the rate of water excretion from the body, as well as certain antibiotics and oral acne medications. Always check with a doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned that a medication may be contributing to your dry skin.

How To Improve Skin Elasticity, According To Dermatologists

Learn more

Hormonal influences:

Changes in the levels of certain hormones, particularly oestrogen and testosterone, can influence the skin's moisture and lipid levels. This is particularly noticeable after the menopause, when the skin becomes dry due to a decrease in oestrogen production. Dry skin may also occur during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, in addition to the extra demand of bodily fluid.Diet:

Like any other organ, the skin requires a range of important nutrients in order to function properly. These include unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins. Having a diet that lacks any of these can contribute to dry skin and make existing conditions worse.

Age As the skin becomes older, the number of sebaceous and sweat glands in the skin decrease, resulting in a reduced ability to produce sweat and lipids. Similarly, the water content of the skin and its ability to hold moisture is also reduced. These factors lead to dryness and a loss of elasticity, which in turn contributes to skin ageing and the development of fine lines and wrinkles. You can learn more about age-induced dryness in the skin here.

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Contributing factors to dry & flaky skin on the body

In addition to the main causes of dry skin on the body that have been outlined above, there are several other factors that affect the severity of skin dryness. An awareness of these factors will help you to avoid them and thereby reduce their impact.

Lack of effective dry skin treatment

When dry skin is not treated quickly, the severity of the dryness can increase. This can lead to the moisture network in the deeper layers of the skin to be disrupted. When this happens, its essential to use a moisturiser that is clinically and dermatologically proven to address this problem to treat dry, flaky skin effectively.Sun exposure

How to calm redness

Learn more

Sun exposure damages your skin and hinders its ability to retain moisture; it also diminishes your skin's ability to replenish and repair itself, which can worsen dehydrated skin. To protect dry skin from sun damage, wear sunscreen with an appropriate Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that also restores missing moisturising to replenish the skin. Some occupations can increase the risk of dry skin development due to constant sun exposure. It is also important that your sun cream, and any other skincare products that are used on your dry skin do not contain irritating perfumes and colourants: dry skin, especially dry facial skin, is more prone to irritation than normal skin.


The skin receives its moisture via the body and is therefore dependent on the bodys water balance for keeping the skin hydrated and soft. When the body is dehydrated it reduces the supply of moisture to the skin, which slows down the natural flow of water through the skin. This is how dehydration can contribute to the worsening of dry skin conditions, especially in elderly people who are prone to dehydration as the sensation of thirst diminishes with age.


ishonest No.313 - Prevent Acne

No.313 - Prevent Acne

Cigarettes contain many toxins, such as nicotine, which may reduce blood flow. A decreased blood flow results in a decreased metabolic rate, causing the skin to age prematurely and dry out.

Dry skin treatment: How to get rid of dry skin

Dry skin is caused by a breakdown in the skins barrier function, which leads to the loss of moisture and a decline in the skin's water-binding capacity. Therefore, dry flaky skin needs a skincare routine that does not cause any further deterioration of the skin barrier and replaces the missing natural moisture. Dry skin to very dry skin as well as dryness caused by diabetes or Psoriasis requires tailored products that provide the appropriate care and protection to restore moisture levels and promote healing. In addition, skincare for dry skin should include products that are suitable for the severity of dryness, depending on the person. For instance, Atopic Dermatitis in babies and young children require specific products for treatment that differ from those tailored to adults with this condition. When choosing a skincare product for children, always check the age recommendation.

How to treat dry skin on the body

How to Get Rid of Blackheads Without Damaging Your Skin

Learn more

Moisturising dry body skin

Dry, rough and tight skin can be caused by a breakdown in three main areas of moisture control: a broken surface barrier caused by a deficiency of skin lipids, a dehydrated stratum corneum (upper layers of the skin) brought about by a decrease in natural moisturising factors, and poor moisture distribution in the lower layers of the skin.

Cleansing dry skin on the body

Dry skin cream

ishonest No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

The primary aim of dry skin moisturisers is to restore the moisture balance in the upper layers of the skin (stratum corneum). Compounds like Urea and Lactate bind moisture into the stratum corneum helping to keep the skin soft, plump and hydrated. For effective hydration, the minimum recommended concentration of Urea in dry skin creams and lotions (even for treating mild dry skin) should be at least 5%.

  • Firstly, Urea and other water-binding natural moisturising factors are replenished, resulting in improved hydration in the stratum corneum.
  • Secondly, Ceramide-3 repairs the lipid skin barrier to lock in moisture.
  • Finally, Glycerin (a humectant) acts to help to retain moisture in the upper skin layers.

Avoiding contributing factors

In addition to having a good skin cleansing and moisturising routine, avoiding contributing factors that can worsen dry skin is essential for effective dry skin treatment.

  • Avoid dry air by spending less time outdoors in hot and cold weather, and by using a humidifier indoors when the heating is on. Air conditioning and central heating units indoors remove moisture from the air and by consequence the skin.
  • Reduce the time spent in hot water by having quick showers between 5-10 minutes, instead of long baths. It is best to use warm, rather than hot water when washing and to avoid washing the face, as this can strip the skin of its natural oils.
  • Use gloves when washing dishes and cleaning to help avoid hot water and strong detergents which can irritate dry skin.
  • Wear clothes made of natural materials, like cotton and silk, that do not irritate the skin. While wool is natural, it can cause skin irritation and is best to be avoided for those with dry, itchy skin.
  • Use a clothes detergent which does not contain any dyes or perfumes as these can remain on the clothes after washing and irritate dry skin, especially sensitive skin.
  • Use beauty and skin products that do not contain perfumes, colourants and parabens to avoid irritating dry skin.
  • Ensure that you drink enough water - it is especially important that the elderly do this as they are more prone to dehydration.
  • Get skincare recommendations that are right for you
  • Enter contests and save with exclusive offers
  • Be the first to try our latest innovations

Our brand values

Pioneers in skincare

We deliver a holistic dermo-cosmetic approach to protect your skin, keep it healthy and radiant.

Recommended by dermatologists
We Ask a Derm: What Is the Best Blackhead Remover?

Learn more

We work together with leading dermatologist and pharmacist partners around the world to create innovative and effective skincare products they can trust and recommend.

Committed to innovation

For over 100 years, we have dedicated ourselves to researching and innovating in the field of skin science. We believe in creating active ingredients and soothing formulas with high tolerability that work to help you live your life better each day.

Read more on: skin, body

What we do

We make skincare treatments and customize them for your skin-related problems, genetics, lifestyle, and environment.

How you benefit

You get total control over your skincare and the choice to change your skin. An impossible has just become possible.

How it Works

Outline of microscope

Create Treatment

Our algorithm creates a unique routine with a few customized products. The algorithm uses 50+ years of skincare research.

Outlines of Packaging

Divide and Rule

Every product is designed for one problem. Apply the product when the problem appears. Much like you treat flu or headache.