Dry Skin Care Tips

Dry skin has a fancy medical name–xerosis–but in most cases, is nothing to worry about. Skin cells that do not contain enough moisture can shrivel and lead to itching, scaling and wrinkling. Dry skin is most prevalent in the cooler months and in dry environments. Taking steps to introduce moisture to the skin and to a person’s surroundings can alleviate the discomfort and unsightly appearance of dry skin. Limiting exposure to known allergens and irritants can also help.

Adjust Bathing Habits

It’s a common misconception that taking a long shower or bath will remedy dry skin. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, long soaks in a hot shower or bath can actually do more harm than good–the high temperature of the water can strip already-dry skin of natural oils that moisturize and lubricate it. Limiting bathing time to a short 15 minutes can help keep moisture in and prevents further drying.

Patting the skin dry, rather than rubbing, can prevent additional irritation to dryness that already itches or hurts.

Boost Moisture

Boosting moisture–in the body, in the environment and on the surface of the skin–is a skin care tip that dry skin sufferers will want to follow closely, as the results can be pleasing. Dry skin, in part, comes from the dehydration of the skin cells. Drinking more water is one way to keep the cells plumped up and smooth.

Using a humidifier in the home is another way to combat dry skin, as the apparatus adds moisture to the surrounding air. Running a humidifier at night when drying heating systems kick in more frequently can help prevent skin from becoming more severely dried out or chapped.

Lubricating the skin through the use of topical moisturizers is also a home remedy that can add moisture to the skin. Products that are greasy may not feel nice to the touch, but do the best job in terms of sealing in moisture, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Applying moisturizing creams or lotion after bathing can lock in more water than if the products are applied at other times of the day.

Choose Appropriate Products

Some people develop dry skin as a response to the cosmetics and bath products they use. The Mayo Clinic reports that soaps and cleansers that are abrasive and astringent in nature, can contribute to dry skin. More delicate products that contain natural moisturizers or are unscented may be easier on dry skin, without causing further irritation. The NIH suggests using soaps sparingly to avoid drying skin out even more.

Avoid Irritants

Products such as cosmetics, laundry detergents or rough fabrics like wool or canvas can be irritants and can cause or intensify dry skin. Each person has a different reaction to toiletries and clothing; keeping a journal that lists symptoms and product use may help determine if a particular product is an allergen. Once a link has been made between dry skin and a particular soap or piece of clothing, avoiding that item can help dry skin heal more quickly.

About this Author

Erica Roth has been a freelance writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.