What is the treatment for dry skin?
The treatment for dry skin is to return moisture to the skin. You can do this by applying moisturizing oils or lotions, using mild soaps when bathing, and avoiding rubbing the skin dry after a shower or bath. Instead, pat gently with a towel. The best time to moisturize is right after a shower or bath, when the water helps trap the moisture in your skin. You can increase the humidity in your home during the winter months with a humidifier. Severe xerosis, as in diabetic patients, is treated with a
prescription medicated lotion. In some cases, xerosis can cause severe complications in diabetic patients, requiring amputation of the foot.
First and foremost, use moisturisers and oily creams. There is no reason to buy expensive fragrant creams. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend some inexpensive perfume-free creams, and may be able to give you some samples. Depending on how dry your skin is it may be best to use a relatively thin moisturising lotion or cream in the summer and switch to a thicker more oily moisturising ointment in the winter. Moisturising shower gels and bath additives that don’t strip the skin of its natural oils can be used instead of soap when washing. Again, your pharmacist can recommend products. Dry skin is a feature of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis and, in these cases, the doctor or the dermatologist may choose to treat the condition with a steroid cream that reduces inflammation.
An important aspect of treatment is to identify and tackle any contributing factors (see the list of causes above). The mainstay of management is: Reduce how often you bath or shower, using lukewarm water. Showers are better than baths. Replace standard soap with a substitute such as a synthetic detergent, water-miscible emollient, bath oil, anti-pruritic tar oil, etc. Apply an emollient liberally and often, particularly after bathing, and when itchy. The drier the skin, the thicker this should be, especially on the hands. Treat the eczematous patches with a topical steroid for a 5 to 15 day course. These are prescribed by your doctor. Make sure you understand where it is to be applied, usually once or twice daily, only on the red and itchy areas.