Small dry patches of skin can be caused by several factors, including dry weather, exposure to chemicals in soaps and shampoos, swimming in chlorinated pools and indoor dry heat, according to Mayo Clinic. Dry patches of skin can also be contributed to excess sun exposure and certain medical conditions.
Dry patches of skin are also a common symptom of eczema, a skin condition that is believed to be linked to an over-active immune response of the skin, notes WebMD. Additional symptoms of eczema include itching and inflammation. In certain cases, itching may develop prior to the dry patches. Eczema patches tend to be thick and may also develop scales.
Small dry skin patches are also indicative of plaque psoriasis, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the skin cells and causes new skin cells to develop rapidly, according to Healthline. The specific cause of psoriasis is unknown, but potential risk factors include a family history of the condition, viral infections, cigarette smoking and high stress levels. The condition is considered chronic, however various treatments are available that may help to minimize symptoms. Treatment options for plaque psoriasis include topical corticosteroid creams, retinoid ointments and moisturizing creams. Individuals with psoriasis may also benefit from ultraviolet light treatments that work to hinder the rapid growth of fresh skin cells.