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Dry Skin

To the outsider, dry skin might seem like a trivial concern – but if you suffer from it yourself, you know how uncomfortable and troublesome it can be.


Treating your dry skin sooner rather than later is always a positive thing – at Skin Institute, we are well versed in ways to treat your dry skin so that it doesn’t get the chance to develop into bigger problems. With over twenty years of experience as a company – and significantly more than that between all of our specialists – your dry skin could be an appointment away from being under control.

Skin diseases are challenging; nothing is more rewarding than seeing my patients getting better.

Dr Kenneth Wong
Dermatologist, Skin Cancer
Treatment Detail Sheet

If you have booked, or plan to, this information is useful to read prior to your dermatology consult.

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Dry skin is an issue many people face, especially in winter. Also known as ‘xerosis’ or ‘asteatosis’ by medical professionals, what may start as a minor complaint can develop into something more serious and uncomfortable if left to its own devices. As skin loses moisture, it cracks and becomes itchy, which can in turn result in dermatitis.

If you’ve ever had strange cracked skin develop on your legs – a ‘crazy-paving’ pattern – it’s most likely eczema craquelé, something that results from very dry skin. Similarly, round patches popping up over your trunk and limbs could be nummular or discoid dermatitis. It can also manifest without any visible sign at all – just dry skin and a persistent itch – something sometimes known as ‘winter itch’, ‘7th age itch’ or senile puritus.

There are a few key elements to take in consideration when figuring out a course of action to combat dry skin:

  • Replacing cleaning products
  • Modifying bathing habits
  • Topical treatments

Our team of dermatologists and dermatology associates understand that your skin is unique, so we’ll take you through an assessment first to ensure you get the treatment that’s right for your skin.


As with many skin conditions, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to dry skin. There are genetic factors at play, as with many skin conditions. If you have an underactive thyroid or have experienced excessive weight loss, this may also influence the condition of your skin. Further components include:

  • Increasing age
  • Cool weather with low humidity
  • Contact with specific soaps, detergents or solvents
  • Friction causing irritation and chapping
  • Air conditioning or central heating (especially spending time near a fire or heater)
  • Excessive bathing, showering or swimming (particularly in highly chlorinated water)

Since dry skin is a common condition, we have a wealth of experience and research to draw from when recommending treatment. Your best tactics include:

  • Reducing excessive bathing
  • Keeping your water temperature lukewarm (rather than very hot or very cold)
  • Taking showers rather than baths
  • Replacing standard soap with a suitable substitute (eg. synthetic detergent, water-miscible emollient, bath oil, or anti-pruritic tar oil)
  • Applying an emollient (moisturiser) liberally and frequently, particularly after bathing and when itchy
  • Treating the patches with eczema characteristics with a topical steroid for a short course (this is something one of our experts would prescribe for severe cases)

Bear in mind that your particular best plan of attack may require some trial and error. Dry skin is generally a long-term problem, with frequent recurrences – particularly in the colder months. If you’ve found particular routines have worked in the past, resume them when your condition flares up – and if they prove ineffective, talk to our team of experts here at Skin Institute.

Why Skin Institute?

Since being established in 1994, Skin Institute has been at the forefront of dermatological care in New Zealand. From the beginning, we have demonstrated expertise in the areas of clinical dermatology, veins, cosmetic medicine and surgery, and skin cancer. Today, we are a multi-disciplinary specialist centre, with clinics across the country – and teams of highly qualified medical and nursing staff at each one.

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