Dry Skin (cont.)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Dry skin facts
- What is dry skin?
- What causes dry skin?
- What are signs and symptoms of dry skin?
- How is dry skin diagnosed?
- Does dry skin cause winter itch?
- Do genetics play a role in dry skin?
- What medical conditions cause dry skin?
- Do any medications cause dry skin?
- What is the treatment for dry skin?
- What are possible complications of dry skin?
- What are some home remedies for dry skin?
- How can dry skin be prevented?
- What are the best products for dry skin?
- Dry Skin FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What are possible complications of dry skin?
A common complication of dry skin and itching is secondary bacterial infection. Infections may be mild and resolve spontaneously or may be more severe and necessitate antibiotic treatment. Severe itching leads to repeat scratching of lesions, hence the "itch-scratch-rash-itch" cycle. Because of the persistence of this itch-scratch cycle, the skin may become much thickened in these areas from rubbing. Repeat skin rubbing in the same area may lead to two localized chronic skin conditions called lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) and prurigo nodule.
What are some home remedies for dry skin?
Apply Vaseline two or three times daily to wet skin.
Dry skin may be improved by taking lukewarm showers or baths and avoiding excess skin scrubbing. Hot water and harsh scrubbing can take away the natural oils that protect skin and make the skin even drier.
Dry skin may be prevented by use of gentle cleansers. Non-scented, mild cleansers or soap-free products like Aveeno, Cetaphil, Dove, or Neutrogena are recommended for dry and sensitive skin. Many scented, deodorant, and antibacterial soaps can be too harsh and wash off natural skin-protecting oils.
Special moisturizers containing lactic acid (Amlactin, Lac-Hydrin), or urea (Urix or Carmol) are very effective in hydrating the skin.
Learn more about: Lac-Hydrin
Mild soaps and cleansers include
- Dove soapless cleanser,
- Aveeno cleanser,
- Cetaphil cleanser.
Mild moisturizers without perfumes are good for dry skin. Thick and greasy emollients work best. Typically, moisturizers should be applied within three to five minutes of bathing when the skin is still damp.
Proper nutrition and essential factors in the diet may help improve dry skin. For instance, essential fatty acids (such as omega-3) can be metabolized in the body to produce natural, moisture-retaining oil barriers of the skin. Omega-3-rich foods include flax, walnuts, safflower oil, and cold-water fish such as tuna, herring, halibut, salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
The moisture on the skin and in the environment is very important to dry skin. Maintaining the skin at optimal hydration and using an indoor humidifier may help improve dry skin.
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