How to Heal Dry & Itchy Skin
Dry skin, known medically as xerosis, is often caused by exposure to cold, dry weather, air conditioning or heating use in the home, bathing too often or an allergic reaction to a specific fabric or detergent. Excessive scratching of dry skin can lead to neurodermatitis, which occurs when skin becomes leathery, thick and darker in color. To reduce your chances of bacterial infections and permanent scars, treat dry, itchy skin as soon as it starts.
Sleep with a humidifier. A humidifier releases water vapor into the air, which is absorbed into your skin while you're sleeping.
Wash your skin with soap only when it's dirty, recommends Hillard H. Pearlstein, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Some soaps can be harsh and drying, particularly if they are scented. Use a gentle, unscented soap formulated for sensitive skin.
Slather your skin with mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are less expensive than over-the-counter (OTC) moisturizers and equally effective, says Howard Donsky, M.D., staff dermatologist at Toronto General Hospital. If you can't stand the greasy feeling, an OTC moisturizer will provide your skin with the same hydrating and lubricating benefits.
Wear loose-fitting 100-percent cotton clothing. Clothing made of synthetic fibers like polyester, or itchy fabrics like wool, can make your skin feel even itchier. Keep your clothing loose and wear all natural fibers to keep you from scratching.
Apply a prescription corticosteroid cream to itchy skin, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Corticosteroid cream reduces the redness, itchiness and swelling associated with itchy skin.
Get light therapy on problem skin that does not respond to other treatments. Your dermatologist can perform light therapy, also known as phototherapy, by shining an ultraviolet light on your skin. Phototherapy uses infrared light to help reduce inflammation and remove abnormal cells that cause the skin to itch. You may need several treatments before your skin is completely healed.
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