What is dry skin? Dry skin has a low sebum level and is prone to sensitivity. The skin looks parched as it is unable to retain moisture. Patients complain of a "stretched" or "tight" feeling especially after washing and there will be some chapping or cracking of the skin. Dry skin is often associated with itching which can be extremely distressing. Itching (pruritus) can sometimes be accompanied by flaking, scaling or peeling. The skin shows fine lines or cracks and there may be associated redness and sometimes even deep fissures that may bleed. What causes dry skin during winter? Dryness is exacerbated by wind, extremes of temperature and air-conditioning, all of which cause the skin to flake, chap and feel tight. The humidity levels in the atmosphere falls drastically in winter resulting in a loss of skin moisture and depletion in the skins natural oils which act as lubricants. What are other common causes of dry skin? Genetic causes, nutritional deficiencies, environmental factors like exposure to sun, wind, cold, chemicals, or cosmetics, or excessive bathing with harsh soaps, and other skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea also lead to dry skin. Other important causes of dry skin include an under active thyroid, along with underlying diabetes. Certain drugs, including diuretics, antispasmodics, and antihistamines can also contribute to dry skin.