is often a temporary or seasonal problem one that you
experience only in winter or summer, for example but the
problem may remain a lifelong concern. Although your skin is
often driest on your hands, arms, lower legs and sides of your
abdomen, the locations where these dry patches form can vary
considerably from one person to the next.
and symptoms of the condition will depend on your age, health
status, living environment, the amount of time you spend out
doors and the specific cause of your problem. With dry skin,
you may have one or more of the following:
Sensation of skin tightness, especially after showering,
bathing or swimming.
that appears shrunken or dehydrated
that feels and loos rough rather than smooth
Itching that sometimes may be intense
Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling skin
lines or cracks in the skin
(xerosis) often has an environmental cause. Certain diseases
also can significantly affect your skin. Potential causes of
dry skin include:
Weather. Skin tends to be driest in winter, when temperatures
and humidity levels plummet. But the season may not matter as
much if you live in desert regions.
Heat. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and
fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
baths and showers. Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry
your skin. So can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily
Harsh soaps and detergents. Many popular soaps, detergents and
shampoos strip moisture from your skin as they are formulated
to remove oil.
Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions such as
atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis are prone to dry skin.
steps can help keep your skin moist and healthy:
Moisturize. Moisturizers provide a seal over your skin to keep
water from escaping. Apply moisturizer several times a day and
after bathing. Thicker moisturizers work best, such as
over-the-counter brands Eucerin and Cetaphil. You may also
want to use cosmetics that contain moisturizers. If your skin
is extremely dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby
oil, while your skin is still moist. Oil has more staying
power than moisturizers do and prevents the evaporation of
water from the surface of your skin.
possibility is ointments that contain petroleum jelly
(Vaseline, Aquaphor). These may feel greasy, so you might want
to use them only at night.
warm water and limit bath time. Long showers or baths and hot
water remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower to
five to 10 minutes and use warm, not hot, water.
Avoid harsh, drying soaps. Its best to use cleansing creams
or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added
moisturizers. Choose mild soaps that have added oils and fats.
Avoid deodorant and antibacterial detergents, fragrance, and
rubber gloves. If you have to immerse your hands in water or
are using harsh cleansers, wearing gloves can help protect
Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing. Gently pat your
skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains.
Immediately moisturize your skin with an oil or cream to help
trap water in the surface cells.
a humidifier. Hot, dry, indoor air can parch sensitive skin
and worsen itching and flaking. A portable home humidifier or
one attached to your furnace adds moisture to the air inside
your home. Be sure to keep your humidifier clean to ward off
bacteria and fungi.
Cover as much skin as possible in cold weather. Winter can be
especially drying to skin, so be sure to wear a scarf, hat and
gloves when you go out.
Choose fabrics that are kind to your skin. Natural fibers,
such as cotton and silk, allow your skin to breathe. But wool,
although natural, can irritate even normal skin.
your clothes with detergents without dyes or perfumes, both of
which can irritate your skin. These products may be labeled as
skin causes itching, apply cool compresses to the area. To
reduce inflammation, use a nonprescription hydrocortisone
cream or ointment, containing at least 1 percent
hydrocortisone. If these measures dont relieve your
symptoms or if your symptoms worsen, see your doctor or
consult a dermatologist.