There are a lot of types and reasons for dry skin:
- Winter dry skin from lack of moisture in the environment.
- Dry hands from use of detergents or chemicals
- Chronically dry heels
- Flaky dry skin from sun exposure
- Facial dryness from using strong products like Benzoyl Peroxide.
- Dry cuticles from using hand sanitizer or biting your nails.
- Rough, dry hands from working with your hands
- Being born with skin on the dry side.
As a nurse, I’ve seen them all. I was certified as a wound nurse, worked for a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon so I know about skin.
Here’s my nursing advice (Does it take the place of seeing a doctor? No. Could it help you until you can get there? Most likely, yes).
My disclaimer here is that if you have any signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pain, heat, discharge or odor, these tips are not for you and will not help you. You need to see a doctor right away. If you have any signs of allergic reaction such as swelling, hives, itching, redness you should also see your doctor so it doesn’t turn into an infection and you can find out what your allergic to.
Furthermore, if you have anything more than just dry skin such as a wound or clinically diagnosed eczema, psoriasis, etc, this post is also not for you.
Ok, shall we begin?
1. No hot water. Bathe when necessary only.
Hot water exacerbates dry skin. If you don’t have dry skin, you will if you continue to take very hot showers or baths. It strips the natural layer of oils your body has produced on your skin for protection. (This layer is called the acid mantle).
2. Use Ivory. Pits and privates only.
You do not need to soap up your whole body. Bacteria and body odor occur in the armpits and gential areas.
3. Olive oil in the bath.
One teaspoon does the trick.
4. Olive oil after bath while skin still wet.
Towel dry but try to mostly pat to keep the olive oil on. This is key: lotion and oils do not ADD moisture, they work by keeping moisture in. If you put lotion/oils on dry hands they are a lot less effective (but better than nothing).
Very Dry Skin:
All of the above plus…
5. Apply lotion 2-3 times per day to driest areas.
Use lotion that contains “dimethicone.” It helps seal in the moisture. A brand I like is Aveeno.
Extremely Dry Skin:
All of the above except: skip step 5 and replace with step 6.
6. Apply Aquaphor instead of lotion morning and night on the driest areas.
Avoid Aquaphor in creases of the skin such as groin or under breasts. Avoid using any lotions, creams or ointments in between your toes as it will cause a fungal infection.
Use Aquaphor on dry hands, arms and legs. It may be uncomfortable to have ointment on during the day. If that’s the case, apply at night. For better results, cover the area. Your legs can be covered with long socks or an ace bandage wrapped (not too tightly). Your arms can be covered with cotton sleeves. Even if you don’t want to wear a full shirt you can cut the sleeves off of a cotton shirt and use them to cover your arms or legs.
- Drink enough water. Chapped lips and dry skin are a sign of dehydrated skin. Drinking water helps. If your skin is dehydrated, you might be dehydrated inside as well.
- Use sunscreen regularly, not just when your going to the beach or park.
- Wear gloves if you work with your hands. Mechanics: wear gloves when you can. Gardeners, outdoor workers of all kinds, woodworkers, etc. wear gloves when you can. I realize it’s not always possible. Use extra lotion whenever possible if you can’t wear gloves.
- Wear appropriate gloves if using any chemicals. This includes regular household cleaners. Bleach and other cleaners will strip the natural acid mantel (oils your skin produces) in a hot second.
- Keep skin covered when outdoors to avoid the elements.
- Wear a hat to protect your head and face when working or playing outdoors.
- Avoid peak sun when working outdoors.
- Be aware of hidden chemicals. Read labels of all products you put on your skin.
- Wash hands thoroughly of any chemicals after you’ve used them but don’t over wash hands in general.
- For dry cracked heels, exfoliate them with a pumice stone or special tool used for this and sleep with Aquaphor and socks for a few nights. (Be sure to avoid putting any lotions, creams or ointments between your toes).
- For those thick dry heels that tend to get painful cracks: cleanse and dry well. Make sure the area is thoroughly dry. Inspect it to make sure it’s nothing more than a crack from dryness and there’s not an open wound (any drainage or redness around it, etc). Carefully apply a drop or two of super glue right into the crack. Yes, Super glue . Then, being careful to not get super glue on fingers, pinch the skin closed until dry. This should last a couple of days before having to repeat it. It’s a tip learned from working for a dermatologist. Use at your own risk and don’t blame me if you glue your fingers to your heel or cannot differentiate between a wound or dry heel crack. Use your best judgment or go to your doctor if you feel the need. if you’re afraid to use superglue you can try “New Skin” or “Wound Seal.” They even sell a brand for pets called “3M Vetbond Tissie Adhesive.”
A tiny story here. Once an elderly gentleman came hobbling into the dermatologist’s office with very painful cracked heels. He was really miserable since it was affecting the way he walked this wasn’t as active as he had been. Doctor gave him the super glue tip. He came back for a follow up. He started dancing with a big smile on his face. It was wonderful. Such a simple, inexpensive fix.
Also, super glue was originally made in 1942 to seal wounds quickly on the battlefields during WW2. The original formula didn’t work as well as they’d hoped for that purpose but today surgeons use a variation of the same idea. It works really well too. I’ve seen it a lot!
There you have it!
I hope this helps!
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Be happy and well!