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Dry Skin Care & Home Treatment

Dry Skin Care & Home Treatment Dry Skin Care & Home Treatment


Dry, itchy skin is a common problem and often occurs in the wintertime, when low humidity and forced-air heating conspire to suck the life out of your skin. Though it's often only a minor annoyance, excessively dry skin can lead to painful itching, fissures, dermatitis and even infection. Fortunately, there are plenty of over-the-counter remedies and home treatments that combat the causes of dry skin.

Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Moisturizing lotions and creams provide a barrier that traps moisture underneath your skin. Most moisturizers contain an emollient, such as shea butter, cocoa butter, or petroleum jelly, which softens your skin and helps prevent it from cracking. The thicker the lotion or cream, the more moisturizing power. Apply moisturizer after a bath or shower, when your skin is still slightly damp; the moisturizer will help your skin retain the water.

Dry Hands and Feet

Excessively dry skin can lead to painful cracks and fissures, especially on your hands and feet, which see the most daily wear. Try to avoid washing your hands excessively, as this can strip oil and lipids from your skin. Apply a moisturizing cream throughout the day. For overnight healing, apply a thick layer of moisturizer to your hands and feet, and then put on cotton gloves and socks before climbing into bed. The warmth will help the moisturizer soak into your skin.

Soaps and Showers

A hot shower might help wake you up on a cold winter morning, but be careful: Frequent hot baths or showers can break down the lipid barriers that keep your skin soft and supple. The solution to your dry skin problem might simply be to take faster, cooler showers. Use a mild, non-drying soap; many bar soaps and body washes contain moisturizers that help replenish your skin's natural oils.

Itchy Skin

Itchiness from dry skin can keep you up at night or even interfere with day-to-day activities. Try not to give in to the urge to scratch. Repeated scratching can lead to red, inflamed patches of skin called dermatitis. An over-the-counter or prescription-strength cortisone cream can help bring dermatitis under control. Anti-itch creams containing camphor, pramoxine or menthol may help you get a good night's sleep, but they only address the itching, not the underlying problem.

When to See a Doctor

If your dry skin persists despite consistent treatment, make an appointment with your health provider. Your doctor will want to determine whether you have a skin disorder, such as psoriasis, or whether an underlying condition, such as hypothyroidism, is causing your dry skin. Yellow patches and pus are also clues to call your doctor, as they are signs of a developing bacterial infection and your doctor may need to prescribe a course of antibiotics.

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