Dry skin, also called xerosis, is a common problem, especially during winter. “Winter’s itch” is another term people use. Skin needs moisture to stay smooth and supple, and retaining moisture becomes difficult as we age. People who live in humid environments have less of a problem than those who live in arid regions. Simple daily routines, such as bathing and towel drying, may actually remove moisture from the skin. Modifying your bathing routine will help preserve your skin’s moisture. Bathing provides the skin will moisturize temporarily, but it removes the skin’s oily lipid layer and in the long run causes more moisture loss than gain. Soaking your feet should be avoided as it tends to dry the feet out more than moisturize them. The wrong moisturizing lotion can have the same effect. Generally, water-based lotions (Lubriderm, Keri-lotion, others) are best cosmetically but oil-based creams are more effective in trapping moisture.
- Each day when you take your bath or shower, try to use lukewarm water. Hot water dries out the skin. Limit your time in the bath or shower. Bathing should be done no more than once a day. Bathing to frequently will remove the natural oils from the skin causing dryness.
- Avoid using harsh soaps that dry the skin. Recommended soaps are Dove, Olay and Basis. Even better than soap are skin cleansers such as Cetaphil Lotion, Oilatum-AD and Aquanil.
- Deodorant soaps are often very harsh and drying. Avoid vigorous use of a washcloth in cleansing. When toweling dry, blot or pat dry. Next apply a moisturizer to the skin. The best time to do this is immediately after a bath or shower so that the moisturizer holds in the moisture from the shower. Choose either Cetaphil Cream, Moisturel Cream, or Eucerin Cream. If you have severely dry skin, apply an oil to the still moist skin such as Neutrogena Light Sesame Oil, Hermal Body Oil, Alpha-Keri Oil or Robathol, then apply a moisturizing cream and also apply the moisturizer at bedtime.
- For laundry, use “All-free”, “Tide-free” or “Cheer-free” detergents. Avoid using fabric softeners, especially in the dryer. Keep irritating fabrics away from your skin. Don’t wear clothing made of wool or other “scratchy” fabrics.
- Use a humidifier in your home during the central heating season. If sweating causes itching, modify your activity and surroundings to minimize sweating.
- If soaking the feet, add oil to the water to counteract drying effect of water.
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to keep your skin moist from the inside, too. Hydration!!!!