What Type of Lotion Is Most Effective for Dry Skin?
Though dry skin isn't a serious medical problem, the itchy, scaling and flaking skin can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Left untreated, severely dry skin may crack, and these cracks can become infected. Moisturizing lotions can help relieve the discomfort and prevent dry skin. If your dry skin doesn't respond to home treatment, see your doctor. Some medical conditions can cause dry skin.
Skin needs moisture to remain soft and pliable. Your body produces natural oils that help with this process, but washing with harsh soaps, exposure to the elements and even poor nutrition can lead to loss of natural oils and drying of the skin. Dry skin may be red or ashy in appearance, and may itch or flake. You may experience dry skin more often in winter, when dry indoor heat and harsh outdoor weather combine to suck moisture from your skin.
Lotions help add moisture to the skin and provide a barrier to prevent more moisture from evaporating. They also soothe the itchiness and help prevent flakiness. Drinking plenty of water, avoiding harsh soaps and keeping hands covered with gloves when you're out in the cold also help prevent dry skin.
According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Letter, moisturizing lotions for dry skin work by trapping moisture in the skin and providing a barrier to prevent evaporation of moisture. Petroleum jelly provides an effective moisturizing barrier, though many people find it too greasy for daily use.
Lanolin, shea butter, olive oil, cocoa butter and jojoba oil are all popular ingredients in dry skin lotions. All serve the same purpose as petroleum jelly, holding moisture in the skin. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Letter reports all these ingredients work well. The American Academy of Dermatologists cites hyaluronic acid, dimethicone and glycerin as preferred ingredients, since they draw moisture to the skin and help hold it there. The lotion you choose depends on personal preference. Thicker lotions work better for most people. Different formulations have different weights and absorb differently, so you may have to experiment with different formulations.
Applying lotion after your bath helps add more moisture to the skin. If you have severely dry hands and feet, apply a layer of petroleum jelly before bedtime and cover hands and feet with cotton gloves and socks. The petroleum jelly will help moisturize your skin overnight. Applying lotion, then dipping hands or feet in paraffin also helps speed absorption of the lotion, and many people find the warm paraffin soothing.
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