Cures for Dry, Flaky Skin
Skin tends to become drier as you age. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says dry skin, or xerosis, can lead to flaking and itching. Xerosis can affect any part of the body, but exposed areas such as legs, elbows, hands and forearms are more susceptible to dryness, according to Health in Aging. Dry skin isn't a serious malady but it can be unattractive and uncomfortable. The use of moisturizers and gentle cleansers can improve dry, flaky skin.
It's best to bathe in warm water in your fight against dry, flaky skin. Hot water may be too irritating, according to The Mayo Clinic. Also keep the time you spend in the water brief. The Mayo Clinic recommends spending no more than 15 minutes cleansing your body. Long baths and showers can remove oils from skin and further dry your skin.
Mild cleansing creams or soaps with added moisturizers are recommended when your skin is dry and flaky, according to the Mayo Clinic. Antibacterial detergents can be too abrasive and leave already dry skin feeling rough. A cleanser should leave your skin feeling smooth and soft. Also avoid harsh scrubbing while washing.
Seal in Moisture
Pat yourself dry with a towel after washing to allow some water to remain on your skin. The Mayo Clinic says this will help your moisturizer trap water in the surface cells of your skin. Moisturizers should be applied to your skin as soon as you finish bathing or showering.
Look for lotions, creams and ointments that contain petrolatum. The AAD says petrolatum, commonly called petroleum jelly, is an effective moisturizer. Moisturizers that contain urea, lactic acid or ammonium lactate may also help diminish drying and flaking by locking in moisture.
Applying sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas 30 minutes before heading outdoors may prevent further dryness. Health in Aging recommends using sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide.
Humidity may help soften dry skin. The use of a humidifier in your home will return moisture to hot, dry indoor air that can intensify flaking and itching.
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