Dry skin in dermatology: a complex physiopathology

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2007 Sep:21 Suppl 2:1-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2007.02379.x.


Dry skin (xerosis) is a common dermatosis affecting people of varying skin types and ages and various areas of the body. It is associated with both skin thickening and skin thinning and is triggered by both exogenous (e.g. climate, environment, lifestyle) and endogenous (e.g. medication, hormone fluctuations, organ diseases) factors. Skin requires a water content of 10-15% to remain supple and intact. This water is either 'static' (i.e. bound) or 'dynamic'. The predominance of hydrophobic substances in intercellular constituents is a means of regulating the humidity of the skin. Emollients, highly effective treatment adjuncts in the management of all dry skin disorders, help to restore damaged intercorneocyte lipid structures and increase the water content of the skin, helping to reduce scaling and improving its barrier function.

MeSH terms

  • Dehydration*
  • Dermatology
  • Emollients / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin / physiopathology*
  • Water / analysis
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Emollients
  • Lipids
  • Water