How to Care For Very Dry Skin
Do you spend each winter itching? Do you have cracked heels? Your rough, scaly skin may need more than the usual winter skin care. If lotions don’t help, or if you’re tired of expensive skin care products, try these tips from a fellow sufferer and her many dermatologists.
Oil, oil, oil. Before you dress in the morning, and when you undress for bed, oil your whole body. Eucerin cream works well, as does AmLactin, an alpha-hydroxy lotion. Then put petroleum jelly or Aquaphor on your feet and hands. If you have especially dry, painful hands, get a box of the gloves food workers use, use the petroleum jelly on your hands, and wear the gloves over it to bed! Food-workers gloves are available in restaurant supply stores, many of which are online.
You can even do this with your feet, using plastic bags (grocery bags are fine) and covering them with socks! If your bed partner has no sense of humor about this, wear the gloves and foot bags around for an hour or two on your day off, while you’re cleaning or watching TV.
Bathe carefully: Quit that morning shower. Instead, bathe before bed, using a colloidal oatmeal product like Aveeno or your drugstore’s version of the same thing. Put a little oil in the bath if your skin feels extra dry. When a shower is unavoidable (like after a session in the muddy garden), use a colloidal oatmeal oil after the shower. And whether you take a bath or shower, never use very hot water; it will dry skin even more.
No soap: The oatmeal bath will clean your skin just fine. For hands and face, even the super moisturized soaps can dry skin. Instead, use Cetaphil to wash your hands and plain water to wash your face. You might even want to invest in a movable shower head, so that you can wash your hair without having the shampoo running down your body and making more itchy spots. In the winter, you probably don’t need to wash your hair more than two or three times a week. I always prefer a natural shampoo anyways!
No perfume: Dry skin is sensitive skin. If the skin care lotion smells good, or has dozens of ingredients, your sensitive skin won’t like it. A light perfume spray will give you all the scent you need. And you’ll also avoid the clashing scent problem you can get from using several kinds of lotion, each with its distinctive smell.
Get the right laundry detergent. Many detergents now come in unscented, dye free versions. Give your sensitive skin every possible break!
Wear gloves: For washing dishes or hand-washing clothes, use rubber gloves. For cleaning, invest in a box of health care worker’s gloves. Get vinyl, not latex, and make sure they are powder-free. These are available at any pharmacy. With them, you can feel what you’re doing without getting any cleaning stuff on your hands. Believe me, you can get things clean with gloves–I do it every day! And your dry skin will love you.
Where to buy it: Your local drugstore will have all the skin care products mentioned in this article, although you might have to ask for some of them at the pharmacy counter. And you might have to special-order the AmLactin, either through your pharmacy or online. Restaurant workers’ gloves can be ordered online from a restaurant supply store. You might even have such a store in your town – I do.
Don’t worry about feeling weird about all this! In our clean-obsessed society, everyone else seems to scrub themselves down constantly. That’s fine, if you have oily or normal skin. If your dry skin flakes inside your black turtlenecks, however, all that scrubbing is just painful. Give your skin the care it really needs, and your winter skin won’t be itchy, flaky, or painful.