Dry skin is a problem of the epidermis which manifests itself in the following symptoms:

* "Cracked", whitish skin

* Sensitivity to touch

* Itching (which later produces redness and may lead to infection)

Possible causes:

* Staying too long in hot water (more than 10-15 minutes)

* Lack of humidity in your environment

* Air conditioning (even more during the winter)

* Bathing or showering too often

* Bad nutrition

* Scrubbing too strongly

* Old age

* Diabetes

* Kidney problems

* Minor causes: Not drinking enough water (debatable), smoking.

* Water heavy on the pH. Particularly bad for swimmers and other water-related activities.

Possible Solutions:

The sooner you realize you have dry skin and begin to treat it, the better. Usually it may not be necessary to go to a doctor unless the skin becomes red or has red spots in it, or the itch interferes with your normal activities or sleep.

* DO NOT SCRATCH. It provides temporary relief but it makes the problem worse, by attacking already sensitive skin. Cut your fingernails to prevent temptation.

* Do not bathe or shower too often (more than once every 24 hours). Showers are healthier than bathing, and waste less water. Don't take more than 10 minutes. Do not use hot water. Use warm water at most, and if possible, decrease the temperature to the coldest water you can stand.

* Do not wet your skin. Common sense may dictate that if the skin is dry, you should make it wet. But your skin's pH (about 5.5 to 6.5) and water's pH (depending on your location, but usually about 7) are different, and common water contains minerals and other substances (such as chlorine) that will harm sensitive skin.

* Do not scrub too hard. Do not use normal soaps, switch to a soap for sensitive skin, preferrably a "fatty" one, without fragrance.

* Use moisturizer freely (usually twice or thrice a day will do). Choose a moisturizer that does NOT contain Alcohol, fragrances, nor lanoline. Use preferrably a non-comedogenic lotion.

If money is an issue, plain old vaseline usually works just fine, but some people can't stand the "greasy" feeling.

Remember to check that your lotion does not contain any of the above. Lubriderm is touted as the product "most recommended by dermatologists", but it contains alcohol. I'd steer clear of it ( It burned me when I tried it :( )

Moisturizer is best when applied within 3 minutes of finishing your shower. Dab your towel very gently on your skin (DO NOT RUB!), and apply the moisturizer before your skin is totally dry. This helps "trap" the humidity.

* ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SCRATCH. It does not help in any way. If you seriously cannot resist scratching, go to a doctor. Scratching opens you up to all sorts of nasty infections and diseases, and it does not help in any way. Even the temporary relief is not worth it - The itch will return even stronger, and your skin will be made more sensitive to scratching. You will enter the scratching circle of death. DO NOT SCRATCH THE ITCH.

Usually a week or so of these measures will return a noticeable improvement. I recommend writing your symptoms to see the progress, and not to be disheartened.

Oatmeal, avocado, olive oil and almonds seem to improve the situation.

*Note: This information was gathered by myself after a particularly bad attack of dry skin. This node is purely for entertainment / informational purposes. If things are really bad, you should ask a doctor for advice.

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