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Relief from Dry Skin!

If you live where it’s cold in the winter or in the hot desert, dry skin can be irritating and a problem.  Dry air can cause those fine lines to be more noticeable. Some areas of dry skin will itch, flake, crack and even bleed especially around fingernails.

What can you do to help prevent and heal dry skin areas?  The American Academy of Dermatology have these tips: 

  1.  Prevent showers and baths from drying out your skin more.  Follow these tips:
    • Keep your bathroom door closed when showering
    • Limit your shower or bath to 5 to 10 minutes
    • Use warm water instead of hot water
    • Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
    • Apply only enough cleanser to remove oil and dirt. A big lather indicates you are using too much.
    • Blot your skin gently dry with your towel
    • Put on moisturizer immediately
    • Apply Moisturizer within a few minutes of washing and drying off.
    • Use a cream or ointment rather than a lotion. These are less irritating and more effective.  Look for one that contains an oil such as jojoba oil or olive oil.  Shea butter is another one that works well.  Ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include hyaluronic acid, urea, lactic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum. 

Keep some hand cream with you and apply it after each hand washing.  This can help relieve dry skin.  

  • Choose and use a lip balm that feels good on your lips.  Some may irritate or sting when applied, avoid using those. 
  • Use gentle, unscented skin care products.  Avoid products with alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or deodorant soaps, when your skin is dry.
  • Wear gloves when doing dishes, cleaning, or going outdoors in the winter.  You can reduce your risk of dry, raw skin on your hands.
  • Wash clothes in a non-irritating laundry detergent.  If you have problems, look for a laundry detergent labeled “hypoallergenic.”  Try wearing cotton or silk under your clothing, especially when wearing wool or other material that is rough.
  • Don’t cozy up to the fireplace or a heat source as they can dry out your skin.
  • Use a humidifier if your room air is dry. Heating cold air can dry the moisture out of the air making it dry. 

If you try these tips and they don’t help, please contact your health care provider or a dermatologist to get relief from dry skin. 

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:

American Academy of Dermatologists. (2019). Dermatologists’ Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin.  Available at https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin?utm_term=Dermatologists%27%20top%20tips%20for%20relieving%20dry%20skin&utm_campaign=9%20skin%20care%20changes%20to%20relieve%20dry%20skin&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-9%20skin%20care%20changes%20to%20relieve%20dry%20skin-_-Dermatologists%27%20top%20tips%20for%20relieving%20dry%20skinMayo Clinic, (2019). Dry Skin.  Available at https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin?utm_term=Dermatologists%27%20top%20tips%20for%20relieving%20dry%20skin&utm_campaign=9%20skin%20care%20changes%20to%20relieve%20dry%20skin&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-9%20skin%20care%20changes%20to%20relieve%20dry%20skin-_-Dermatologists%27%20top%20tips%20for%20relieving%20dry%20skin

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