Dry skin usually occurs or worsens in the winter months when the air is particularly dry in our homes. The moisture in our skin evaporates into the dry air. A heating blanket may dry out your skin in the winter months if the bedroom is not adequately humidified. Also, wool clothing and blankets sometimes irritate the skin and may increase itching. It is important not to scratch, because this will further irritate the skin.
Effective ways to treat and prevent severely dry skin:
- Use a moisturizing cream to add moisture back into your dry skin.
- Soaking in a bath with bath oil, for 15 to 20 minutes, is helpful because it adds moisture back into the skin. Showering tends to wash off your own body oil and makes you drier. Pat, don’t rub, yourself off after the bath.
- A prescription cortisone cream may reduce itching, redness, and irritation. It should be used as often as directed by rubbing it into the red, itchy areas.
- Glycolic lotions (alpha hydroxy acids) may be used to exfoliate and slough off the dead skin cells while hydrating and smoothing the skin.
- An antihistamine may be prescribed for itching. These pills work internally by decreasing itchiness. Take them as directed. They may cause drowsiness, so decrease or stop the dosage if you become too tired while taking them. You should neither drive nor use alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.
- A cortisone shot may be used to quickly help reduce severe redness, inflammation, and itching.
- The humidity in your home should be kept around 45 to 50 percent, especially in the bedroom where you spend about eight hours a day. The use of a humidifier often helps alleviate dry skin. A humidity gauge should be placed in your home to monitor the humidity; these can be purchased at a hardware store.
To schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist at Soderstrom Skin Institute, call 1-888-970-7546.