Treatment for Dry Flaky Skin
Several medical conditions can cause dry, flaky skin, but it is just as often a normal part of aging or of living in a dry climate. The options for treatment of dry and flaky skin include lifestyle changes, home remedies, simple commercial products such as lotion, and, in the most severe cases, treatment by a medical professional.
One of the most common reasons for dry, flaky skin is simple: dry air. People who live in climates with low humidity may experience chronic dry skin, while many others get dry skin in the winter when the humidity drops. Keeping your house more humid can improve your skin's moisture level. Hot water strips the natural oils from your skin and dries it out; bathing or showering less frequently and in cooler water may also help.
Soaps and Lotions
Harsh soaps can also strip the skin of oils. Treat your dry, flaky skin by using gentle cleansers such as Aveeno or Cetaphil instead of normal soaps. Use moisturizing lotion daily, especially after your bath or shower to help lock in the moisture.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
Dry skin that does not clear up with simple lifestyle changes and lotion may be a sign of a serious medical condition. If your skin itches so badly that you are scratching it to the point of bleeding, or it is making it difficult for you to sleep, you should see a dermatologist.
Medical Causes of Dry Skin
Dry skin can be the result of several medical conditions. Keratosis pilaris, a common condition also known as "chicken skin," causes acne-like bumps on the skin and is generally mild. In ichthyosis vulgaris, which is also called "fish scale disease," skin cells don't shed normally, but accumulate into thick, dry scales. Asteatotic eczema and psoriasis are two other chronic skin conditions that can cause more serious skin dryness and damage.
For those with more serious skin conditions, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter creams containing moisturizers such as urea or alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid. A doctor may also prescribe creams containing hydrocortisone or other steroids to aid in skin healing. Psoriasis sufferers may also benefit from ultraviolet light therapy and from application of coal tar to the skin. Experimental treatments for psoriasis and eczema include medications that suppress the immune system; these may be available either as a pill or as a topical cream.
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