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Dry Itchy Skin

Dry, itchy skin is basically experienced during winter, but it may occur any time of the year, in all age groups. Adopt proper bathing method and skin care tips to treat itchy dry skin at home.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Nearly all of us are familiar with dry skin, especially during cold winter season when the environmental humidity level drops down and the skin is exposed to dry winds. But some people are more prone to skin dryness and itchiness than others. It is medically known as xerosis or asteatosis.
Before we discuss the tips for getting relief from parched, itchy skin, let's see what causes this skin condition. That way, you can avoid the triggering factors beforehand, instead of dealing with dry, rough and dull looking skin later.

What Causes Dry Itchy Skin?

Dry skin may affect people of all age groups, irrespective of whether the person has underlying skin symptoms or not. Most likely, people experience dry skin in the hands and lower legs. When the skin is dehydrated, what appears to be fine lines before become more prominent.
The skin feels tight, looks pale, reddish and flaky. At times, dry skin patches and cracks accompany intense itching. Probable causes of itchy dry skin include:
  • Less humidity or dry air is a main cause for drawing moisture out of skin.
  • Taking hot water bath for a long time contributes a lot to skin dryness.
  • Frequent washing of hands and legs, or anything that cause exposure to water repeatedly.
  • For many people, the main trigger for skin to become absolutely dry and scratchy is using harsh soaps and skin cleansing agents.
  • Poor diet and lack of some vitamins also play a major role in skin dryness and alike problems.
  • Less water intake, excessive sweating, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to skin dryness and itchiness.
  • Dry skin is also caused due to chronic smoking and side effects of medicines (e.g. antihistamines and diuretics).
  • Last but not the least, itchy dry skin is a sign of skin diseases, like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis amongst others.

Remedies for Dry Itchy Skin

Indeed, dry skin is a frequently occurring condition, which by itself is seldom severe. However, the effects of itchy dry skin are extremely uncomfortable, and at times, disturb normal sleep and day-to-day activities. Adopting proper skin care tips is the easiest and effective trick to get relief from dry, itchy skin.
While lack of moisture is the root cause behind skin dryness, applying water is not the key solution. In other words, you need to take some more effort to tackle dry skin. Here's how to get rid of itchy dry skin.
  • First of all, practice proper bathing technique. Remember that using hot water along with harsh soap depletes the natural skin oils, leading to dehydrated skin. So, take a short bath, not more than 10 minutes per day with a natural based, perfume free soap.

  • If you have naturally dry skin, it gets worse with repeated water and soap. So, avoid the same, and use soap minimally. Also, make sure that you use a milder, unscented soap for dry skin, instead of the perfume loaded, chemical based ones.
  • Liberal application of a good quality moisturizer is perhaps the most effective way to combat itchy dry skin. After you bath or shower, gently pat the skin dry with a soft towel, and apply a thick moisturizer to lock skin moisture.
  • Consider reapplying moisturizer on the dry skin areas in the evening and just before going to bed. Or else, apply it over the dry parts (arms, hands and legs) whenever you feel skin tightness and itchiness. This will surely give you relief from itchy skin.
  • Essential oils (e.g. almond oil) or other bath oils can be used in the same way as a moisturizer after bathing, and randomly throughout the day. While some people prefer adding oils in bath water, rubbing them after bath is a better idea.
  • During winter, turning on a room humidifier is a good way to deal with extra skin dryness. You can install this home appliance in the bedroom, where you spend most of your time. Also, don't forget to wear hat and gloves, when you step out of the house.
  • Drinking lots of water (at least the recommended amount) and consuming a balanced diet with fresh fruits and veggies are equally important to keep the skin well-hydrated and healthy in the long run. Read more on itchy skin at night.
This is how you can reduce dryness and subsequently the itching in winter months. In case, itchy dry skin patches persist even after trying the above home remedies, seek advice from a dermatologist. There are also over-the-counter skin ointments formulated with cortisone, which help in treating such skin symptoms.
If you are using them, follow the user directions strictly and use only for the suggested period (say 5 - 15 days, not beyond that). Prevention of itchy dry skin is all about applying moisturizer as a part of the skin care routine, and avoiding use of harsh skin products.