Dry skin occurs when skin doesn't retain sufficient moisture. This can happen as a result of frequent bathing, use of harsh soaps, aging, or certain medical conditions.Skin moisturizers, which re-hydrate the top layer of skin cells and seal in the moisture, are the first step in combating dry skin.In general, the thicker and greasier a moisturizer, the more effective it will be. Some of the most effective (and least expensive) are petroleum jelly and moisturizing oils (such as mineral oil). Because they contain no water, they're best used while the skin is still damp from bathing, to seal in the moisture.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Limit yourself to one 5- to 10-minute bath or shower daily.
2. Minimize your use of soaps.
3. To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges, scrub brushes and washcloths.
4. Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing or washing your hands.
5. Choose non irritating clothes and laundry detergents.
Dry skin is usually not a serious health problem, but it can cause serious complications, such as chronic eczema (red patches) or bleeding from fissures, that have become deep enough to disrupt capillaries in the dermis. Another possible complication is secondary bacterial infection.
Consult your Doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if measures you take at home provide no relief. For severe dry skin, your Doctor may prescribe a cream containing lactic acid, urea, or corticosteroids. She or he may also want to rule out medical conditions that can cause dry skin, including hypothyroidism, diabetes, lymphoma, kidney disease, liver disease, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.
Always use sunscreen — even in the winter — to protect your skin.