Got ashy, patchy, red, peeling, itchy, flaking or just plain ‘ol uncomfortable skin? Regardless of your exact skin ailment, dry, itchy skin can drive you insane. And unfortunately, slathering on moisturizers can only help so much.
If your condition is truly troubling you, you may want to make a dermatologist appointment (especially since there are some conditions that no amount of home TLC can fix).
Here are some top home skin-soothers you can give a try:
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1. Don’t use anything that says “soap.”
Washing your dry skin with soap and water strips away the skin’s protective natural oils along with dirt and grime.
The natural solution: Switch to cleansing creams, gentle skin cleansers or bath or shower gels with moisturizers, not harsh soap. Your skin should feel soft and smooth after washing, never tight or dry. Experiment with several brands until you find the right one.
“Use fragrance-free, non-detergent, neutral-pH products to cleanse your skin,” says Monica K. Bedi, M.D., a Florida-based dermatologist.
An extra natural tip: Try aloe or a tepid water-oatmeal mixture on the irritated area.
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
The problem: About 75% of dry skin problems can be solved with one step, says dermatologist Morgan P. O’Donoghue: “After bathing in tepid water, moisturize immediately to help trap water in the surface cells, then pat dry.”
The natural solution: Try using thicker creams – like Eucerin, Cetaphil or Lubriderm – which can work better than lotions. Also, look for cosmetics with moisturizers. If your skin is extremely dry, apply cocoa butter, almond or vitamin E oil right after your shower or bath, while it’s still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers and prevents water evaporation.
An extra natural tip: Ditch that washcloth – it may irritate very dry skin. Instead, use your hands, a sponge, or a VERY soft facial brush.
3. Moisturize Your Home
The problem: Many homes, especially during the cooler months, can create an environment that isn’t very kind to skin, considering the drying effects of drier air and having home heaters on.
The natural solution: Keep your home between 68 and 75 degrees, and use a portable humidifier to maintain moisture levels at 40%-50%. Note that tabletop humidifiers work for a single room, but require frequent fillings, sometimes several times a day, and also need careful cleaning to prevent growth of bacteria and fungi in the tank. Put it in your bedroom to hydrate your skin as you sleep.
An extra natural tip: If you have severely dry skin or live in an arid climate, consider installing a humidifier that’s built into your forced air heating and cooling system. It’s costlier but may be worth it in the long run.
4. Watch What You Wear
The problem: Some fabrics allow the skin to breathe easier than other. Also, certain detergents can irritate sensitive, dry skin.
The natural solution: Wear more cotton and silk, which allow for more air flow to and from your skin.
An extra natural tip: Use fragrance-free detergents that won’t irritate. Feel free to skip fabric softeners, unless their specifically made for sensitive skin.