What To Do About Dry Skin

by Amy Pusey
(last updated May 1, 2012)

Dry air is an enemy of our skin. Winter and arid climates lack moisture in the air (low humidity), so it gets drawn from our bodies. When that necessary moisture is removed, the surface skin becomes dry and flaky causing our bodies to naturally exfoliate it in order for a healthier layer of skin to become the outer layer of protection. Dry air is not the only culprit causing dry skin. It can be caused by products we use or are exposed to on a daily basis, including soaps, lotions, and chemicals. And, it can also be due to the natural aging of our skin, as well as certain skin disorders.

Individuals experiencing continually dry skin may have symptoms beyond dullness and flakiness. Acute dry skin can cause excessive scratching and rubbing, which thickens the affected skin and that may lead to painful cracking of the skin. When skin becomes red, scaly, and inflamed, these may be signs of common skin disorders, such as dermatitis and eczema. If you have symptoms to this extent, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist for possible treatments because skin problems can sometimes be confused with reactions to foreign objects, like poison ivy, or infections, including ringworm.

When your dry skin is the average garden variety, there are many treatments that may be well-suited to helping you alleviate its discomfort. You may want to try any of the following to determine which method works best for you:

  • Keep your bathing time short, and use lukewarm water. Long, hot showers may feel nice, but are very drying to the skin. Use a mild soap that has built-in moisturizing properties.
  • Use a moisturizer several times a day, especially after bathing. Since dry skin can be sensitive, a hypoallergenic brand is a good choice. The best types to use are ointments, oils, creams, and lotions, respectively.
  • For really dry hands, give yourself the white glove treatment. Enrobe your hands in a thick coating of petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, before bed time and wear a pair of white cotton gloves to bed. You skin will absorb the ointment overnight giving you hydrated, supple hands in the morning.
  • Consider adding bath oils to your lukewarm baths, so you can benefit from the moisturizers they provide. Also, using a few drops of baby oil in the bath water or rubbing it on your skin afterwards can help revitalize and soothe your skin.
  • If you are experiencing minor itching, you can apply a hydrocortisone cream to help eliminate the itch. Untreated itching may compel you to vigorously scratch your skin, which can leave it red and tender. So, sometimes it is best to obtain a quick fix to a minor itch.

Severe skin conditions require professional medical treatment. Often, your doctor will prescribe either antihistamine pills or steroidal creams to use. These can be quite strong and should not be used longer than prescribed, or given to other individuals to treat their dry skin symptoms.

When selecting any oils, creams, or lotions to use on your dry skin, you should be certain to read the ingredients. Some products contain additional chemicals, such as fragrances and preservatives, which may promote irritations or allergic reactions in some individuals.

Author Bio

Amy Pusey

With over 18 years experience in operations and human-resource management, Amy Pusey uses her skills in her consulting and freelance writing activities. She is a freelance writer for Tips.net, as well as a resume writer for GreenThumbResumes.com. ...

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