Dry skin can make life uncomfortable and even unbearable. The itching and irritation can make it difficult to focus on important tasks and to get a good night’s sleep. Dry skin may have multiple causes. In many cases, it can be relieved by making lifestyle changes.
How to Keep Your Skin Hydrated
Hot and dry air in your house can cause or worsen dry skin and make it itchy and flaky. You can prevent or alleviate that by using a portable humidifier or one attached to the furnace. Be sure to clean it regularly.
If your skin is dry, it may be at least in part because of products you routinely use. Stop using deodorant soap and skin care products containing fragrances, alcohol, retinoids and alpha-hydroxy acid that can rob your skin of its natural oils.
Household cleaning products have chemicals that can dry out your skin. Wear gloves when using them.
Clothing made of cotton and silk allows skin to breathe, while wool can cause irritation. Avoid wearing irritating fabrics or wear a comfortable fabric underneath to prevent itchy skin. Use a hypoallergenic laundry detergent that doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes, since they can irritate skin.
Use warm water (not hot) when you take a shower or bath. Limit the amount of time you spend bathing so your skin doesn’t dry out. Use a mild soap that contains moisturizers, a gentle skin cleanser and a moisturizing bath or shower gel. Avoid products that contain fragrances, alcohol and antibacterial agents. Use enough soap or cleanser to clean your skin, but not so much that it creates a thick lather.
When you get out of the shower or bath, pat your skin with a towel so you don’t remove all the water. Then apply a moisturizing cream, ointment or lotion that contains olive oil, jojoba oil, mineral oil, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, petrolatum, lactic acid or urea to help your skin retain moisture. Ointments and creams moisturize skin better and cause less irritation than lotions. You should also apply a moisturizer within a few minutes after you wash your hands or face, and use a thick moisturizer several times each day to keep your skin hydrated.
If you have very dry skin, apply an oil while your skin is moist to prevent water from evaporating. You can use an ointment that contains petroleum jelly at night to moisturize your skin. That wouldn’t be a good choice for daytime use since products with petroleum jelly feel greasy.
Don’t forget about the skin on your lips. Use a lip balm that moisturizes your lips without causing a stinging or tingling sensation.
See a Doctor If Necessary
Dry skin that is caused by lifestyle and environmental factors may be relieved by making simple changes. If these suggestions don’t help, your dry skin may be due to a medical condition. You may have to see a dermatologist who can prescribe a cream, ointment or another form of treatment.