Dry skin (xerosis), is often itchy and irritating. Dry skin results from the loss of oils (sebum) in the skin that serve as a natural moisturizer. The tendency for dry skin runs in families and is usually a recurring problem, especially in winter. Because of this seasonal occurrence, it is sometimes referred to as “winter itch".
Dry skin may occur with excessive bathing (particularly with hot water), low humidity (in desert climates or cold winter weather), advancing age, or the use of drying soaps (antibacterial, deodorant soaps, Ivory).
It is important to regularly apply a moisturizer when your skin becomes dry. Moisturizer is best applied within 3 minutes after a shower or bath when your skin is still damp, but not wet.
Use hypoallergenic and fragrance-free moisturizers. The drier the skin, the “thicker” the moisturizer should be (in order of increasing "thickness" - lotions, creams, ointments). For some people with very dry skin, petrolatum (Vaseline) is quickly absorbed and may be required to sufficiently moisturize the skin. Other effective moisturizers that are readily available include: CeraVe, Cetaphil, and Eucerin creams and Aquaphor. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend a urea- or lactic-acid-based product.