There is a reason that there are aisles and aisles at the grocery store full of different moisturizers, creams, ointments, and lotions. Many people deal with constant dry skin and this can lead to flaking, itching, redness, and full-blown skin infections. There are many factors that go into our management of dry skin as dermatologists. There are some underlying medical conditions that may be causing your dry skin, including thyroid abnormalities, so a good physical examination and possibly blood work by can be helpful. Some forms of dry skin are hereditary so you can thank your mom and dad if that is in your family history. Dry skin can also be worsened by certain soaps, long-hot showers, and certain medications.
In general, the following steps can help get your skin back to silky smooth:
1) Apply a liberal amount of a bland moisturizer at least twice per day. My favorite is Vanicream because it is free of irritating substances like fragrances, masking fragrances, parabens, and dyes. If you prefer a lighter-feeling lotion, Vanicream Lite Lotion is an awesome choice.
2) Take showers instead of baths and use the least amount of soap possible, only in dirty areas like underarms and groin. Soap is designed to strip the oils off of your skin. Shorter showers and milder temperatures are better for dry skin than that long, super-hot marathon in the shower we all love.
3) Apply your moisturizer immediately after a shower as this is when your skin needs it the most.
4) Repeat this process daily. The biggest mistake people make is thinking that they can cure their dry skin for good without doing any ongoing management. Just like how we have to keep washing our hair or else it gets greasy and nasty, or brushing our teeth every day, our skin has to be maintained daily to stay looking its best.