Dry skin most often occurs on the shins, hands and sides of the abdomen. It is more common during the winter months, when humidity is low. Some people also have a genetic, or hereditary, tendency to develop dry skin. In addition, elderly people tend to have more trouble with dry skin due to the natural changes in skin that occur with age.

Treatment is important because extensively dry skin can lead to dermatitis, a more severe inflammation of the skin.

Dry skin may be prevented or treated by:

* Taking lukewarm baths or showers (instead of hot ones)
* Limiting baths/showers to 5 to 10 minutes
* Applying a moisturizer right after drying off from a shower or washing your hands
* Using a moisturizing body soap and hand soap
* Using heavier creams or ointments during the winter months and lighter lotions in the summer

How do I know if I have dermatitis?

Dry skin is defined as flaking or scaling—which may or may not be itchy—when there is no evidence of dermatitis, or inflammation, of the skin. Some flaking along with redness, however, may be a sign of an underlying dermatitis. There are different types of dermatitis that may cause dry, itchy, flaking skin.

They include:

* Seborrheic dermatitis. This type involves a red, scaly, itchy rash on various areas of the body, particularly those areas that contain many oil glands. Seborrheic dermatitis can occur as scaling on the scalp, eyebrows and sides of the nose.
* Allergic contact dermatitis. This occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance that causes an immune reaction, such as poison ivy. Allergic contact dermatitis of the hands often causes scaling on the fingers.
* Atopic dermatitis. Also known as eczema, this is a long-lasting type of dermatitis that often runs in families. It also may cause excessively dry, itchy skin.
* Athlete's foot. In many cases, athlete's foot, a fungal infection, shows up as dry flaking on the soles of the feet.

source:http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=43075

Watch video for how to care dry skin