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How to ditch dry skin

Dry skin can be itchy and unpleasant. If you’ve lathered on the lotion to no avail, you’re probably fed up with dry skin. You don’t have to feel like an alligator. It turns out there are a few easy ways to help treat dry skin so you can stop relating to a reptile.

“I discuss dry skin tips every day with my patients,” said, Katherine Fiala, MD, a dermatologist at Baylor Scott & White Continuing Care Hospital – Temple.

Dr. Fiala and other dermatologists help to treat a number of skin conditions, including dry skin (xerosis) and eczema. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to keep your skin nourished and healthy.

Our skin plays a vital role in protecting our bodies. It shields against the environment, protects from bacteria and helps regulate sweat glands. With all our skin does for us, it gets a lot of wear and tear. Depending on your history and environment, you may be more prone to dry skin.

Why your skin is dry in the first place

Dry skin can be a frustrating skin problem. Ideally, your skin gets moisture from sweat glands and tissues beneath the skin, and then oil helps to hold onto the moisture. If your body has a hard time holding onto the water and oil that it needs to keep skin moist, you end up with dry skin.

Dr. Fiala said there are many reasons you may have dry skin, but here are some general explanations.

Fish-like skin (Ichhtyosis)

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This is a congenital condition that can be passed down through a family in which the skin is extremely dry, like scales on a fish.

Eczema

People with eczema have problems with a protein called filaggrin which helps protect the outer layer of skin from elements as well as help prevent water loss.

Systemic medical conditions

Dr. Fiala said both diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism can lead to drier skin. As we age, our body loses water more easily and we are more prone to dry skin

Environment

Living in a dry climate with low humidity it can dry out your skin. Using harsh soaps or detergents or too much water can also cause dryness, since your skin can’t keep the needed oils.

What you can do to treat and prevent dry skin

Here are some ideas to help treat dry skin:

In the shower

Keep it short. Long, hot showers are not good for dry skin. The more you get wet and dry off, the more you are removing vital oils from your skin. Short, lukewarm showers that last less than 10 minutes are best.

Stop using harsh soaps that tend to dry out the skin more and instead switch to a gentle soap.

“Often, for my older patients, just a simple change in body soap from a harsh one to a gentle, sensitive-skin, fragrance-free soap or body wash makes all the difference,” Dr. Fiala said.

After the shower

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Applying lotions or creams immediately after a shower is the most effective approach to dry skin. A dermatologist can help with recommendations on specific products for your skin.

During the changing seasons

In the winter, dry skin is even worse. The weather is less humid and heaters are running and drying out our indoor environment even more. Dr. Fiala suggests having a cold water humidifier to help. In the summer, remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

Need help keeping your skin healthy? Find a dermatologist near you.

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How to ditch dry skin