Dryness

Ordinarily, dry skin isn't serious, but it can be uncomfortable and unsightly, turning plump cells into shriveled ones and creating fine lines and wrinkles.

Serious dry skin conditions — an inherited group of disorders called ichthyosis — can sometimes be disfiguring, causing psychological distress. Fortunately, most dry skin results from environmental factors that can be wholly or partially controlled. These include exposure to hot or cold weather with low humidity levels and excessive bathing.

Chronic or severe dry skin problems may require a dermatologist's evaluation. But first you can do a lot on your own to improve your skin, including using moisturizers, bathing less and avoiding harsh, drying soaps.