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Ask the Dermatologist: What are the best solutions for dry skin?

Yes, it’s that time of year again! The heaters are on, you’re snug by the blazing fire, and maybe even dressed in a new wool sweater gifted by a family member. A picture perfect, cozy winter evening; that is, until that pesky dry skin itch appears to disrupt it!

Read along for some tips and tricks to help keep that winter itch away!

  • Keep your baths and showers lukewarm. Even when the cool weather tempts you to make the water hotter, those high temperatures are irritating to your skin barrier and ultimately result in drier skin.

  • Cleanse with a fragrance-free, gentle cleanser applied only to the areas that need it (underarms, groin, feet, and visibly soiled areas). Lots of bubbles, a scent, and a tight feeling after cleansing are things that you may have learned to associate with clean skin, but those are actually signs of dry skin and features of products that are likely to irritate you.

  • Pat dry gently — you don’t need to remove every last drop of water — and apply moisturizer within three minutes of getting out of the shower while you’re still in the warm, steamy bathroom. This helps to seal in all that great hydration your skin got in the shower!


The million dollar question: What moisturizer should you use?

It is very overwhelming standing in the aisle looking at shelves full of similar products or facing the infinite scroll after searching online.

General Tips:

  • Cream over a lotion

Creams are thicker so they last longer on the skin and generally don’t have as many preservatives due to lower water content.

  • Ointments for open wounds

Greasy ointments like Vaseline, Petroleum Jelly, and Aquaphor are all that should be used on open wounds in the skin, as these will not cause stinging or irritation

  • Fragrance free

We see a lot of allergic and irritant reactions due to topical product use and a common culprit is fragrance. This can be from both outright fragrance added to products for a desired scent or from ingredients that happen to naturally have a fragrance. Even natural products can have fragrance added, as is the case with essential oils in skin care.

Tried and True:

  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

I recommend these products on a daily basis because are readily available at most brick and mortar stores where you already shop so they are convenient to pick up.

Some Notable, Maybe New-to-You Moisturizers:

  • La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream

    • Newly enhanced formula of an old favorite! Includes prebiotics, ceramides, and sustainably sourced shea butter

  • Avene TriXera Xeracalm A.D. Lipid Replenishing Balm

    • A richly moisturizing and fragrance-free formula that calms the skin and helps support a healthy microbiome

  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream with Hyaluronic Acid, Fragrance Free for Sensitive and Dry Skin

    • A faster absorbing, lightweight formula packed with great moisturizers. Make sure to pick up this particular item from the Hydro Boost line as it is the only fragrance-free formula.

When moisturizer isn’t enough:

It’s time to seek care when dry skin remains persistent despite routine use of over-the-counter moisturizers. Generally, initial treatment is with topical steroids as these are fast acting and safe for the short term. When skin flares are stubborn, we turn to steroid-free topicals, pills, or injectable medications. We are excited to have even more steroid free topical options to offer this new year after the recent FDA approvals of Vtama and Zoryve.

Call our office today for an evaluation by one of our providers if you are struggling with persistently dry or itchy skin!


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