Many factors, some internal and some external, can contribute to dry skin. Skin becomes dry when the outer layer of skin loses too much water content. Dry skin may affect the face or body. It may appear scaly or cracked and dry skin can also lead to symptoms such as itching or burning. Extremely dry skin can also result in eczema requiring treatment with medication.
Generally, treatment for dry skin involves avoidance of factors that can dry the skin such as hot water, harsh soaps, fragrance (in soaps, shampoo and laundry detergent) and dry air (humidifier) as well as the addition of moisturizers to assist in the relief of dryness. Remedies for dry skin often contain ingredients that block the loss of water from the surface of the skin, soften the skin, and bind up water in the upper layers of the skin. Some of our favorites for dry skin include Trixera Emollient Balm, Vita- Body Moisture and Restoraderm. Fragrance free soaps include Lipikar Surgras Bar and Cerave Cleanser.
If eczema occurs it usually requires an anti-inflammatory medication, such as a topical steroid, for which you need to see a dermatologist, although you could try over the counter cortisone first. Sometimes eczema can become infected in which case it looks crusty or yellowed with scabs; if this occurs, see your dermatologist!