Dry Skin (cont.)

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Do any medications cause dry skin?

Medications for medical conditions like high blood pressure (such as diuretics), cholesterol-lowering drugs, and acne (such as retinoids like Retin A) may also dry out the skin.

What is the treatment for dry skin?

The best treatment for dry skin is daily lubrication with an emollient (a substance that inhibits the evaporation of water). Because most dry skin is due to external causes, external treatments like creams and lotions can be applied and effectively control the skin problem. Often, dry skin can be improved by applying a bland over-the-counter moisturizer. Once other causes of dry skin have been ruled out, the main goals of treatments are to stop the itching, prevent loss of water, and restore skin hydration.

Light moisturizing lotions for mild dry skin

  • Cetaphil lotion
  • Lubriderm lotion
  • Curel lotion

Highly moisturizing products (that characteristically do not flow out of the jar when inverted) for severe dry skin

  • Vaseline
  • Aquaphor
  • Crisco vegetable shortening

Topical steroid creams include

  • hydrocortisone 1% cream (mild strength),
  • Pramosone 2.5% cream (mild strength),
  • triamcinolone 0.1% cream (medium strength),
  • fluocinonide 0.05% cream (strong strength).

As a general rule, only mild corticosteroid creams like hydrocortisone should be used on the face, underarm, and groin areas. Long-term application of strong corticosteroid creams like fluocinonide may cause serious adverse effects, including skin thinning, stretch marks, and skin breakdown.

Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax), and cetirizine (Zyrtec) may also alleviate generalized itching in dry skin.

Anti-itch oral medications

  • hydroxyzine (Atarax)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/27/2014

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