Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
If you have dry skin, you should moisturize daily. Do it right after you shower, bathe, or wash your hands, while your skin is still damp. If you can tolerate the greasy feeling, choose a moisturizer that is thick, heavy, and gooey. Skin care experts say ointments (called emollients), such as petroleum jelly, are best. They help seal the skin and prevent water loss. But their greasy feel may be a turn-off for some people.
Creams are the next best bet.
Lotions are not quite as effective but often feel far better than creams and ointments on your skin. These products are mainly water-based, and the water quickly evaporates when applied to the skin.
The moisturizer should be free of dyes, fragrances, and other possible irritants. Make sure the label says the product is hypoallergenic. This means the moisturizer is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, which can make you itch more.
If a skin cream or ointment isn't handy, check your kitchen cupboard for a quick fix. Cooking oils and shortening can work just as well as commercial moisturizers and are likely to be less expensive. They are, though, messy.
Frequent hand washing can often lead to dry skin. Place a tube of hand moisturizer (ointment or cream) next to the sink so it is within reach each time you wash your hands.
Take Shorter Showers
Bathing or showering too often strips the natural oils from your skin, causing it to become dry. Hot water also robs your skin of moisture. If you have dry skin, try these tips:
- Use cool or lukewarm water only while showering or bathing.
- Limit showers to 10 minutes maximum.
- Do not bathe more than once a day.
- Add baby oil or oatmeal soaks to your bath to help relieve itching. If you use oil, be extremely careful to avoid slipping when you get out of the tub. (Don't forget, you still need to use moisturizer when you are finished bathing.)
- Gently pat yourself dry with a towel and avoid vigorous rubbing.
Skip the Scented Soap
Deodorant bath soaps can leave you smelling great, but their ingredients actually strip moisture from your skin. That can trigger your urge to itch. It's best to limit using such soaps to body areas prone to odor, such as the armpits, feet, and groin area.
For other parts of your body, choose a mild cleanser. If you are prone to dry skin, unscented bath soaps or those labeled "for sensitive skin" are the best choices for lathering up in the bath or shower. Fragrant soaps and body washes can also lead to dry skin and itchiness. Some people develop dry, itchy skin when they come in contact with certain perfumes or dyes found in these soaps, detergents, and many other products. If you avoid such irritants, you can often prevent skin discomfort. That goes for laundry detergent too. Avoid perfumed or scented detergents and fabric softeners. Detergent names or labels often contain the word "free" to indicate they do not contain perfumes or dyes.