If you’re dealing with dry itchy skin, you don’t need to worry just yet. Dry skin is almost always itchy skin. The itch is due to the nerves on dry skin becoming irritated. These nerves will incite the urge to scratch, which further irritates the skin and nerves. If you give in and scratch, the irritation increases, the urge to scratch increases, and a potentially harmful cycle ensues.
To care for dry itchy skin is a twofold process: The first is keeping the skin from becoming dry, and the second is returning moisture to the skin in the event it becomes dry. In this article, we are going to share with you nine tips on how to do it.
9 Tips on Preventing and Alleviating Dry Itchy Skin
It’s always easier to keep your skin moist than it is to try to moisturize once it’s already dry. This can be done by:
1) Limiting water exposure to the skin
This doesn’t mean quitting bathing or swimming, it just means doing those activities differently. For bathing, short showers using tepid water are best. The longer the shower, the more oil your skin will lose. Hot water dries skin quicker than than warm or room-temperature water. A good rule of thumb is to shower less than five minutes in the coolest water tolerable. For swimming, avoid long periods in the water, and shower off chlorine-treated water immediately after swimming.
2) Avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures
Both heat and cold tend to dry your skin. Heat from home heating systems dries the air and your skin. Using a humidifier when home heating is used will help to mitigate this effect. Cold temperatures are also associated with low humidity levels, so outdoor activities in cold weather should be engaged in sparingly.
3) Having a daily moisturization regimen
Your skin should she moisturized after all potentially drying events. These include bathing, hand washing, swimming, doing the dishes, etc. Quickly replenishing moisture via emollients, natural oils, or creams prevents your skin from breaking down and turning into dry itchy skin.
4) Avoiding common irritants
While all skin is different, there are a number of common household products that can lead to dry itchy skin. These include fragrances, harsh soaps, latex, solvents, industrial fluids like antifreeze or battery acid, and even natural items like certain household plants. Simple avoidance of these products can reduce or eliminate many cases of dry skin, but if you suspect an irritant even when keeping away from the common ones, try tip eight.
5) Staying hydrated
If you’ve ever noticed that horrible feeling when dryness makes your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth, you have a good idea of what happens to your skin when you’re dehydrated. Hydrating isn’t only for periods before or after exercise. Drinking plenty of water at all times is not only good for overall health, it ensures that your skin has an ample reserve of moisture to counteract environmental conditions that tend to be drying.
Treating and Recovering from Dry Itchy Skin
Despite the best preventative efforts, your skin may still dry out. To return it to a moist, healthy state may require a variety of techniques depending on the cause of the dryness. However, dry itchy skin will almost always benefit from these remedies:
6) Visiting a doctor
Don’t just assume that your dry skin is of the ordinary variety. Skin dryness can be the symptom of a number of potentially dangerous conditions, including hepatitis, Lyme disease, fungal infections, and certain fevers. If your skin has been dry for some time with no relief, have it checked out to make certain it is not due to something serious.
7) Using a steroid cream
Resistant dry skin may need more help than the average moisturizer can provide. Start with an over-the-counter formulation and use only as directed. Applying the cream more than directed can actually worsen the condition. Also, if the dry itchy skin has continued for longer than one week, quit using the cream and make that doctor visit. A different approach or stronger steroid cream may be necessary.
8) Making a contact diary
As mentioned above, dry skin can occur for many reasons. If you have tried numerous remedies and had no success, making a contact diary may help identify the cause. To do this, begin writing down everything your skin comes into contact with and when it happens. The goal is to find a pattern between contact with a particular substance and subsequent dryness and/or irritation. If a particular irritant is identified, eliminate contact with it. If contact is unavoidable, you will need to contact a doctor for further options.
9) Substituting something for scratching
Scratching will only exacerbate the condition and may render treatment less effective. Instead of scratching, try getting the skin to “notice” another sensation. Applying a moist, cool cloth to the affected area may help. Even slapping your skin is a better alternative than digging your nails into the area.
The prognosis for alleviating your dry itchy skin is very good. Simple dry skin responds very well to the tips presented above. The cases where the skin is resistant to all topical treatment are quite rare and usually due to an underlying condition. While it takes a certain amount of vigilance to prevent and recover from dry skin, it is well worth the effort.
Dry itchy skin can be anything from a mild annoyance to a tear-inducing nightmare, depending on the severity. Follow the tips mentioned above and keep your skin and yourself happy and healthy. Let us know how you managed to recover the health of your skin.