Dry Skin

  • Medical Author:
    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.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    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.

View the Antiaging Tips & Secrets Slideshow Pictures

What are possible complications of dry skin?

An occasional 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 an emollient cream 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. 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 also effective in hydrating the skin.

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.

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2016
Dry Skin Quiz: Test Your Dry Skin IQ
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Dry Skin - Signs and Symptoms

    Describe the signs and symptoms associated with your dry skin.

    Post View 9 Comments
  • Dry Skin - Causes

    What is the cause of your dry skin?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Dry Skin - Medical Conditions

    Do you have any medical conditions that are the cause of your dry skin? If so, how do you relieve the symptoms?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Dry Skin - Home Remedies

    Please share any home remedies that help relieve dry skin.

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Dry Skin - Products

    Everyone has a favorite product to help soothe dry skin. What do you recommend?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors