Although dry skin might clear up on its own in time, it could take a while, especially if you're using products that worsen the irritation or if you live in a naturally dry climate. If you don't want to wait, there are steps you can take to alleviate the dryness.
First, avoid soaps, laundry detergents, facial cleansers and toners that contain harsh chemicals, alcohol, and other drying or irritating agents. Try switching to milder soaps and detergents. When bathing and showering, spend less time in the water and turn the temperature down. Warm water strips less oil from your skin than hot water does [source: Mayo Clinic]. When you get out of the tub, try not to scrub yourself dry with the towel. Although it might feel good, that nice, brisk rub can be abrasive and make dry skin worse [source: Medline Plus]. Opt for a gentle pat down instead. These measures avoid aggravating dry skin and also help prevent further dryness.
You can also take some steps to soothe your irritated skin and restore moisture. First, and most importantly, you need to moisturize regularly. When you get out of the bath, shower or pool, the water on the surface of your skin evaporates, taking natural oils and moisture with it. To keep the moisture in your skin, you should apply moisturizer within three minutes of climbing out of the water, preferably while your skin is still damp [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
You also need to keep moisture in the air around you. To improve the humidity level in your home, you can add a humidifier. This will counter the drying effect of an air conditioner or heater. If the outdoor climate is especially dry, be sure to apply moisturizer -- especially one with sunscreen -- before heading out for the day. A moisturizer with sunscreen provides double protection against dry air and harmful rays from the sun.
Finally, dry skin might signal that your body is dehydrated, or lacking sufficient fluids [source: Medline Plus]. You can keep your body -- and skin -- hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.
The most important thing to remember about everyday dry skin is that you should be able to fix it. With proper attention, your dry, itchy skin could soon be a thing of the past.
Learn more about different types of dry skin and how they can be treated below.
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- American Academy of Dermatology. "Dermatologists' Top 10 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin." Aging Skin Net. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/winter_skin.html
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Eczema: Tips on How to Care for Your Skin." December 2006. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/eczema-and-atopic-dermatitis/prevention.html
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- Cleveland Clinic. "Aging and Skin Care." June 12, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/skin_care/hic_aging_and_skin_care.aspx
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- Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin." Nov. 26, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560
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- National Institute on Aging. "Skin Care and Aging." Aug. 6, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/skin.htm
- New Zealand Dermatological Society. "Dry Skin." DermNet NZ. June 15, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/dry-skin.html
- WebMD. "Dry Skin and Itching -- Home Treatment." March 5, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/dry-skin-and-itching-home-treatment
- WebMD. "Ultra Dry Skin? When to Call the Doctor." Nov. 29, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 5, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ultra-dry-skin-when-call-doctor