Soap substitutes, moisturisers, barrier creams, anti-itch preparations and bath and shower substitutes can all help to alleviate problems associated with having dry skin. Ask your pharmacist about the most suitable treatments for your skin.
Normal soap is very alkaline and can damage the skin. If you have dry skin, you should always use a soap substitute. Similarly, soaps with perfumes and/or lanolin may trigger allergies.
You can use aqueous cream or emulsifying ointment as a liquid soap substitute by putting a small knob into a jar, adding hot water and shaking the jar.
Moisturisers should be applied frequently. They leave a fine film over the skin that retains moisture. Ointments tend to be more effective than creams, but are a little more greasy. Humectants such as glycerin, propylene glycol and phospholipids may be useful as hydrating agents. Allantoin, on the other hand, is a keratolytic agent that loosens cells on the top layer of skin, exposing the new, soft skin underneath. Urea is a humectant that holds moisture in the skin and has mild keratolytic action.
Barrier creams are useful for people who frequently have their hands in water or who have contact dermatitis. However, they can make your hands slippery.
Oatmeal and pine tar products are useful in the bath to help relieve itchy, dry skin.
Regular use of bath oil may stop the skin producing its own oil, which can cause rebound dry skin. For this reason you should not use more than the recommended amount.
The following supplements may also help with dry skin:
Last Reviewed: 31 March 2009