Tight, itchy, flaky and dull: these are the hallmark symptoms of dry skin. Unlike other skin conditions, dry skin may affect the skin over your entire body, making it quite a chore to stay comfortable. Here are some ways to find some relief and replenish lost moisture.
1. Nix the hot baths and showers
Hot water strips your skin of natural oils, leaving you parched once you’ve dried off. Stick to tepid or warm showers and baths, which cleanse your skin without removing your skin’s natural moisture. In addition, use body washes and bath soaps intended for dry skin; some bar soaps and other cleansers can strip moisture from your skin, too.
2. Add moisture to your environment with a humidifier
When the air indoors or out is especially dry, your skin has a tendency to dry out, too. Running a humidifier inside adds moisture to the air, which benefits your skin. This is especially important in the winter, because furnaces and fireplaces can drastically reduce the relative humidity indoors.
3. Apply moisturizers after showers and baths and whenever skin feels dry
Body oil, body butter, creams or lotions–whatever moisturizer you prefer, applying it when your skin is still damp will help to seal in moisture and keep you from feeling itchy. Likewise, apply your facial moisturizer after washing your face in the morning and at night. Use hand creams, lip balms, facial mists and other specialized forms of moisturizer throughout the day if you feel dry.
4. Eat plenty of good fats, including omega-3 fatty acids
Certain fats, along with other nutrients, like vitamin A, C and E, are essential for healthy skin. These nutrients help your body to produce sebum, a natural oil that keeps your skin moist and supple. Excellent sources of unsaturated fats are nuts, salmon, olives and olive oil.
5. Protect your skin from the sun and wind
Whether you don sun-protective clothing and hats or slather on the sunscreen, keeping your skin from being exposed to UV rays can prevent dryness. If you want a golden glow without the dry, dull skin that comes along with it, use a sunless tanning product. Wind, especially cold wind, can also be very drying. Use lip balms and extra moisturizer to keep the skin on your face from drying out when the weather is blustery.
6. Drink plenty of water
If you are dehydrated, your skin shows it. Not only does a lack of internal hydration lead to flakiness and itchiness, but it reduces the overall elasticity of your skin. In fact, one of the hallmark symptoms of dehydration is that the skin doesn’t “snap back” to its original position immediately after being pinched. Down your 6-8 glasses of fluids each day to encourage adequate skin moisture.
7. Avoid scratching
While the urge to scratch can be overwhelming, avoid it. You can unintentionally create openings in the skin through which bacteria can enter, leading to infections. Try using a dab of hydrocortisone cream on an area that won’t stop itching; this can provide a bit of relief.
Dry skin is uncomfortable and unsightly, but with a little pampering and a few healthy habits, you can relieve the itchiness and discomfort and replenish the moisture your skin desperately craves.