Do certain cleansers cause itchiness?

Knowing When Your Skin is Clean or Dry

After a tough workout or a long day at work, sometimes all you want is to feel as clean as possible. But if your skin is too clean, you could actually expose yourself to more problems than dirt or sweat can cause. Dry skin can be irritating and painful. So how do you know when your skin is the perfect level of clean?

After you cleanse, your skin should feel soft and smooth -- it should never feel tight or dry. If your skin feels tight, it's because your skin hasn't retained enough moisture, and your naturally plump skin cells have turned shriveled and tight. If you're cleansing and moisturizing properly, you shouldn't experience this problem. Don't mistake a tight feeling after cleansing for a sign that your skin is extra clean and healthy.

There are more signs that your skin is severely dry. Any roughness, itching, flaking, scaling or peeling indicates that your skin is due for some much-needed moisture. A hydrocortisone cream canĀ  help to alleviate the itching while your skin regains its natural moisture. When skin is dry like this, fine lines and redness can appear and, in severe cases, bleeding can occur in cracks in the skin. If your skin begins to swell, crack, bleed or ooze, home treatments may not be enough and it is time to see your doctor.

If you have sudden itchiness or dry skin that develops with a new medication or a medical condition like diabetes, you should contact your doctor for further information. These symptoms may not be the result of improper cleansing but of something else that your doctor can advise you on more specifically.

In most cases, dry skin isn't a serious condition -- following proper cleansing and moisturizing routines can easily reverse it. For more hints on dry skin prevention, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Dermatologists' Top 10 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin." 2008. (Accessed 8/30/09).
  • Fries, Wendy C. "Dry Skin: Soothing the Itch in Winter." WebMD. Oct. 17, 2008. (Accessed 8/30/09).
  • Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem." WebMD. March 6, 2009. (Accessed 8/30/09).
  • Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin." Nov. 26, 2008. (Accessed 8/30/09).
  • WebMD. "Cosmetic Procedures: Skin Care for Dry Skin." Nov. 29, 2007. (Accessed 8/30/09).
  • WebMD. "Ultra Dry Skin? When to Call the Doctor." Nov. 29, 2007. (Accessed 8/30/09).