Dry skin

Dry skin is first defined by feelings. The skin may feel uncomfortable, tight and possibly rough, and the application of an appropriate product will provide relief. These symptoms can sometimes be accompanied by itching and burning sensations.

A doctor, however, will diagnose dry skin (the term xerosis is also used) based on an objective criteria: a dull appearance, specific clinical epidermal signs of desquamation, cracking, sometimes inflammation and loss of elasticity. Irregularities on the skin’s surface are even more significant with dry skin.

Dry skin provides a favourable environment for eczema to develop, particularly in the form of pityriasis alba (dry patches). They generally appear on the cheeks and arms of children with systemic dry skin (that occurs as part of atopic dermatitis).

Within the range of dry skin, there are various stages:  


Dry skin

Dry skin

temporary discomfort, slight tightness and light desquamation

Dry skin

Very dry skin

significant discomfort and tightness, intense desquamation, cracks, chapping

Scratching - Eczema

Pre-atopic xerosis

rough, dry skin (dry patches) and light irritation

Healthy skin is naturally protected on its surface by the hydrolipidic film, composed mainly of water and lipids (sebum).

It is impermeable, protects the skin from external stress and reduces water loss. When the upper layer of the epidermis does not have a good balance of water and lipids, it can no longer effectively fulfil its barrier function and becomes uncomfortable to varying degrees, as explained above.

In contrast to dehydrated skin, dry or very dry skin is a chronic condition and is generally hereditary.

It is a type of skin, like oily skin, combination skin, etc.

In addition to innate or systemic dryness, there are also dry skin conditions triggered by other factors :

Water drops

external factors

environmental or weather conditions


skin diseases or general illnesses

atopic eczema, psoriasis, etc.
thyroid, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, etc.


medical treatments

Dry to Very Dry skin

1 / Dry skin or very dry skin

designates a particular skin type. It is a permanent condition characterised by tightness over the entire face and body caused by an abnormality in the skin barrier.

The skin is fine, has small, almost invisible pores, redness, and lacks water and lipids.

Dehydrated skin

2/ Dehydrated skin

can affect people of all skin types at one time or another during their lives. This is a reversible, temporary phenomenon characterised by localised, occasional tightness due to poor binding and water loss. The skin lacks moisture, making it uncomfortable and sometimes scaly. Learn more about dehydrated skin here.

Skin changes with age

Some people are born with dry skin; it is part of their genetic heritage. It is also important to understand that the skin changes with age. It is drier in children (except in newborns; however, water loss is more significant at that age), becomes oilier in adolescence and then becomes dry again in adulthood (the sebaceous glands and sweat glands become less functional).

Natural skin aging causes the epidermis to become thinner as its cell renewal rate diminishes and the horny layer to become thicker.

If you have lasting discomfort, contact your dermatologist who will be able to diagnose whether you have dry skin or dehydrated skin.

If your skin suddenly becomes dry, the triggering factor should be explored:

  • it may be a change in the environment (working in a different atmosphere, engaging in an activity that dries out skin such as swimming in a pool, or using an aggressive soap or shower gel),
  • an internal disease or a medicated treatment (cholesterol drugs, etc.).

Once a responsible factor can be identified then it is much easier to correct and find relief.

Bioderma - dermatological expert

In addition to the discomfort it causes, dry skin allows irritating and allergenic agents to penetrate the skin. It also promotes the appearance or persistence of certain conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

This is why the skin needs to be rehydrated.

  1. The first step is to ensure you are drinking a sufficient amount of water. It is recommended that we drink at least 3 litres of water a day (unless otherwise directed by your doctor).
  2. Next, only use non-aggressive cleansing and skincare products. For dry skin, it is important to use replenishing, non-detergent, and, if necessary, rehydrating cleansing products. These can come in the form of milks, creams, balms, ointments, and oils depending on the area and degree of dryness. The aim is to reduce water evaporation, maintain a sufficient amount of water in the epidermis, and repair the impaired skin barrier.
  3. Lastly, do your best to avoid overexposure to overheated and airconditioned environments to reduce the risk of increased Transepidermal Water Loss. If this isn't possible, an air humidifier may help.
Woman drinking water

Twice a day, wash your face with a mild cleanser that will not damage the skin barrier.

To dry, gently dab skin without rubbing.

Woman washing her face with water

Each morning and evening after washing, gently apply a moisturising and emollient treatment to relieve pulling sensations and protect your skin from external stress. Remember to nourish the skin on your face and body with suitable products.

Woman applying cream