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What causes patches of dry skin?

I've had a few patches of dry skin pop up lately, which has never happened before. I'm 27 and have had one on my arm, ear, and leg in the last couple of months. What's causing this and what can I do to make it stop?
The most likely cause of these intermittent dry patches of skin is condition known as eczema. Eczema is a condition in which the skin lacks certain molecules that keep it well hydrated. The end result is flares of red, itchy, and scaly skin patches. Most cases of eczema can be easily treated with excellent skin moisturizing. It is best to use a thick skin moisturizer, such as a Vaseline-like product, and to apply it several times a day. It is also helpful to avoid excessive hot showers and harsh soaps, as these can dry out the skin. If there are still a few stubborn patches that persist even with these methods, you could try an over the counter anti inflammatory cream, such as hydrocortisone, to see if you can clear those areas up. If all of these methods still do not work, then you will want to make an appointment to see your primary care doctor. Sometimes, more stubborn cases of eczema will require stronger prescription strength steroid creams and other medications. Your primary care doctor will be able to take a look at the spots on your skin and make a recommendation as to which treatments you should try.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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