What is the cause of dry body skin?

We find out the causes, symptoms and solutions for dry body skin.

The skin is not only the body’s largest organ but plays a vital role in regulating body temperature and acts as a barrier protecting the body against infection.

However, dry body skin that is cracked can lose its ability to perform these functions. A good skin care routine using products formulated specifically for rough and cracked skin, like Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS, can help to restore skin to a healthier state.


  • Extreme tightness
  • Extreme roughness
  • Skin cracks or fissures
  • Intense itching


The causes of rough and cracked dry skin vary from poor skin care and environmental factors to health-related conditions, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and diabetes. These skin care and environmental factors include:

  1. Skin care

The use of harsh soaps on the skin strips the skin of its natural lipids and moisture leading to rough and cracked dry skin. A gentle wash fluid that does not wash away skin’s natural protective barrier should be used.

A suitable moisturiser should be frequently applied to the affected area. The best time to moisturise is when the skin is clean and slightly damp. For example, after a bath or shower. Moisturisers that contain compounds that restore the functioning of the deeper skin layers are recommended for very dry, rough and cracked skin.

Frequent washing is also a contributing factor to rough and cracked dry skin. Baths and showers should not be too hot or too long. This causes the skin’s natural lipids and natural moisturising factors to be leached from the skin, reducing its ability to retain moisture.

  1. Weather, seasons and sun exposure

The change of season is a common cause for rough and cracked dry skin. During the harsh winter months, the skin is exposed to the cold weather, and the use of heating indoors dries out the skin. Skin becomes rough and cracked during this time, and if left untreated these cracks can get deeper and become inflamed.

During the hot summer months, skin becomes dry due to too much sun exposure. To prevent the skin from becoming rough and cracked, a sunscreen containing a moisturiser should be applied.

  1. Occupational risks

Certain occupations are at a greater risk of developing dry body skin which can become very rough and cracked. These are jobs that involve exposing the skin to certain conditions, such as very hot or cold conditions (farmers), frequent use of detergents (doctors/nurses/hairdressers).

  1. Dehydration

The skin receives its water via the body, and is therefore dependent on the body’s water balance. When dehydrated, the body reduces the supply of moisture to the skin which slows down the natural flow of water through the skin, which can contribute to dry skin.

  1. Smoking

Cigarettes contain toxins which cause a significant decrease in blood flow. This results in a decreased metabolic rate within the skin, which causes the supportive fibres in connective tissue to lose their elasticity. This means the skin has aged prematurely, and is easily dried out. 

Caring for rough and dry body skin

Dry skin is caused by a breakdown in the skin’s barrier function which leads to the loss of moisture and water-binding capacity due to a deficiency of moisturising factors. Therefore, dry skin needs a skin care routine that does not cause further deterioration of the skin barrier and replaces missing natural moisturising factors.

Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS is an effective range of products that delivers both immediate and long-lasting relief for dry, very dry and rough skin. All Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS products are formulated with a unique combination of ingredients:

  • Urea and other Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) to improve skin’s water-binding capacity and increase its moisture content.
  • Ceramide and other lipids to form a lipid envelope to strengthen the skin barrier and protect against moisture loss.

Cleansing dry body skin

Dry skin is most likely dry due to the skin’s surface barrier breaking down. Therefore, it is important that the cleanser is gentle enough not to wash away the skin’s natural protective barrier. Additional natural moisturising factors, such as urea, will also help to restore the skin’s moisture balance. Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS 5% Urea Replenishing Body Wash Fluid is an effective, replenishing cleanser for dry skin that can be used daily.

Moisturising dry body skin

The first requirement for moisturisers for dry skin is to restore the moisture balance in the upper layers of the skin. Natural moisturising factors (NMF) compounds, like urea and lactate, bind moisture into the stratum corneum, or upper layer of the skin.

The minimum recommended concentration of urea, even for mild dry skin, should be 5%. Very dry skin generally requires a higher concentration of urea and other moisturising factors.

The Eucerin Urea range for dry skin contains a range of products which includes lotions, creams and a cleanser as well as hand care treatments. These products are available with different concentrations of the water-binding active urea, and the concentration used should vary according to the severity of dryness.

For more information please visit www.eucerin.co.za

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