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.
Other Tips for Preventing Dry Skin
- Do not use cleansing toners, colognes, body mists and splashes, aftershaves, or similar products that contain alcohol. Alcohol dries out skin.
- Avoid coarse, scratchy, or rough fabrics, such as wool, which can make skin feel itchy. Choose softer fabrics, like 100% cotton or silk. Keep this in mind when choosing bedding as well.
- Dry air and low-humidity can pull water from your skin. Running a humidifier in your home, particularly when you have the heat on, can restore moisture to the air. Aim for a humidity level of about 45% to 55%.
Treating Dry, Itchy Skin
If dry skin has left you with small, itchy areas on your body, an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or ointment containing 1% hydrocortisone may offer some relief. Hydrocortisone is a type of steroid medicine that helps reduce itching, redness, and swelling.
If you have extreme itchiness, see a doctor. You may need a prescription for a stronger type of hydrocortisone or other steroid. Your doctor may refer to these products as topical corticosteroids. Topical means you put it on your skin.