There are some people who suffer from dry itchy skin due to many reasons. Some experience it during the winter season and some during the summer season. Other things that may cause dry skin are sun exposure, smoking, and stress. However, dry itchy skin can also be a chronic problem to other people and it often leads to skin thickening, cracking, and bleeding and without proper care, it may increase the risk of skin infections.
Dry itchy skin can also affect people’s sleep because of irritation, and it may also be a symptom of a disease. Elderly people tend to have more trouble with dry itchy skin due to the natural changes in their skin that occur with age. Our skin tends to be drier when aging because of the loss of sweat and oil glands. Here are some of the other factors that may lead to dry skin.
Causes of Dry Skin
Another term for dry skin is Xerosis, and it is very common in modern societies affecting all ages even infants. In the United States, most cases of dry skin are related to one or more of the following factors:
Decreased production of sebum
This is the most common cause of dry and itchy skin for older people. As we age, the number and activity of sebaceous glands in the skin tends to decrease. Sebum is the oily secretion in sebaceous glands that is a mixture composed of fatty acids, sugars, waxes, and other natural chemicals. It forms a protective barrier against water evaporation. Without enough of it, the skin will lose water and it will feel dry.
Loss of existing sebum
This is generally caused by a person’s lifestyle such as excessive scrubbing of the skin or too much exfoliating, using harsh soaps that destroys the protective layer of sebum, and excessive bathing or showering which leads to loss of sebum.
Extreme environmental conditions can also overwhelm the skin’s natural protective barrier. This is the major cause of dry itchy skin among the people who live in desert climates. Excessively dry indoor air can also cause dry skin.
Outdoor athletes with frequent exposure to wind and sun are mostly affected by these conditions as well. Swimmers tend to get their skin dry due to the chemical content of pool water. These chemicals draw out the moisture from the skin.
In some cases, the entire body tends to be dry and on for some, just a certain part of the body is affected. For example, school athletes who shower several times a day tend to have dry skin over their entire body. Food handlers, house cleaners, and the like on the other hand tend to have dry skin on their hands due to frequent washing.
There are some other easy habits that can increase the skin’s natural moisture which can prevent it from getting dehydrated and becoming itchy. Some of them can be shortening showers to avoid stripping off natural oils from the skin, avoiding products that may cause dryness to the skin, and looking for routines that will do good for the skin like eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water.
However, if you already have dry itchy skin, you will need to find an effective treatment for it. Two of the most effective treatments for dry itchy skin are using creams to relieve the itchiness, and moisturizing the skin regularly to reduce its dryness.
Treating dry itchy skin is important because it can lead to dermatitis or eczema. Over-the-counter anti-itch creams or ointments containing 1% hydrocortisone may offer some relief. Here are the different types of anti-itch cream.
- Hydrocortisone: This is a type of steroid medicine cream that helps reduce itching, redness, and swelling.
- Diphenhydramine: This is an antihistamine cream that is used for treating allergic reactions.
- Pramoxine: This is a topical cream used on the skin as an anesthetic or numbing agent.
There are many soothing and effective anti-itch creams available in drug stores. Most of them, especially those with lower doses, can be purchased over the counter.
The most common treatment for dry itchy skin is to apply moisturizers regularly. There are many kinds of moisturizers you can buy in the market but for dry itchy skin, an unscented moisturizing lotion may work best since fragrance can sometimes cause skin irritation as well. Plus, they are easier to apply and will help maintain skin moisture.
If you can tolerate the greasy feeling, you can choose a moisturizer that is thick, heavy, and gooey because these are more effective. Also, be sure to pat skin dry rather than rub it with a towel. Applying a moisturizer while the skin is still damp is the best chance for the skin to absorb the moisturizer. You can also do this each time you wash your hands if you have dry hands.
Avoid going overboard with moisturizer. Some people who constantly apply cream may feel like their skin becomes dependent on the external hydration. If the skin does not think its atmosphere is dry, it would not work to maintain its own hydration which will cause it to look drier. It could create a vicious cycle, encouraging you to moisturize more. As long as you are giving your skin space to breathe, moisture as you would like.
Moisturizers come in many forms such as ointments, creams, and lotions. For those who have allergies, it’s also important to choose a moisturizer that is hypoallergenic.
- Ointments: These are mixtures of water in oil which is usually lanolin or petrolatum. It keeps the skin hydrated and prevents much water loss but its greasy feeling is a turn-off for some people.
- Creams: These are basically oil in water which is the main ingredient. It must be applied more often than ointments to be most effective.
- Lotions: These are not quite very effective but often feel far better than creams and ointments on your skin. These products are mainly water-based and the water quickly evaporates when applied to the skin. They feel cool on the skin and do not leave the skin feeling greasy. Although they are more pleasing to be applied than ointments and creams, it does not have the same protective qualities as the two.
These treatments need to be applied frequently to relieve the signs and symptoms of dryness. Moisturizers are a must to prevent recurrence of dry skin.
Here are some of the best creams available for treating dry itchy skin:
This cream provides ample moisture to dry and flaky skin with visible results from the first use. It repairs, renews and soothes distressed skin. The whipped texture is instantly absorbed with no greasy after-feel.
It contains shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, ceramide 3 and FAB antioxidant booster. This product is free of artificial colorants and fragrances, parabens, alcohol, lanolin, propylene glycol, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, and sulfates.
It provides instant relief and long-term hydration for dry, distressed skin and eczema from head-to-toe. Can deal with eczema and gives nourishment onto parched skin with clinically proven hydration by 169% instantly upon application. Safe for sensitive skin either for children or babies. Suitable for all skin types to help calm and soothe the skin.
This is a refreshingly soft moisturizing cream that you can use to achieve incredibly soft skin. It is highly effective and is quickly absorbed by the skin. It refreshes and leaves skin sensationally soft and smooth. It is pH neutral and dermatological approved. It is an intensive moisturizing cream that contains vitamin E and Jojoba oil to make your skin supple. Can be used as a daily moisturizer all over body and face. For best results, use twice daily.
CeraVe moisturizing cream is developed with dermatologists that have a unique formula. This formula with ceramides helps rebuild the skin’s protective barrier and locks in moisture all day.
It provides a 24-hour lock-in skin moisture and restores the protective skin barrier with three essential ceramides 1, 3, 6-II. Ceramides give skin it needs to help restore and maintain its natural barrier.
It is delivered through a patented, controlled-release technology. It also contains hyaluronic acid to help retain skin’s natural moisture. It is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. A gentle cream and has a non-irritating formula.
Aveeno moisturizing lotion contains active naturals colloidal oatmeal and rich emollients that help prevent dryness and protect the skin 24-hours. You will see a difference after just one use. It is gentle for everyday use leaving the skin soft, smooth, and naturally healthy looking. It is fragrance-free, non-greasy, and noncomedogenic.
St.Ives facial moisturizer renews collagen and elastin that hydrates and visibly softens dry skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It conditions skin for a young-looking glow. This moisturizer is paraben free, hypoallergenic, and noncomedogenic. For best result, use morning and night and you will see improvement in 2 weeks.
If you are still constantly trying new creams in the battle against itchy hands, arms, and legs, the solution is may be simpler than you think. Try to stick with one simple solution, see if it works and if it doesn’t then move on. A good moisturizer and some anti-itch creams might be all you need to relieve dry itchy skin. We hope the information we shared will help you treat your dry itchy skin.