Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why is my skin so dry and itchy?"
Skin all over my body is dry and itchy and I can't understand why. I don't take long showers or shower too much and I use lotion on all of my body. Still dry and itchy though. What is the next step for treatment options?
Itchy skin can have many different causes, each with varying treatments and your primary care doctor can help you differentiate the etiology of your symptoms. Dry skin (xerosis) or eczema may be part of the issue. Dry skin can be exacerbated by excessive washing and dry environments. You can try to avoid excess washing and use a mild soap like fragrance free Dove or Lever 2000. A humidifier (very well cleaned) is often helpful during winter months to help combat the increased dryness of the environment. Also, using a mild detergent to wash your clothes may help with your symptoms. Almost all brands of detergent make a line of "free and clear" detergents that have less chemicals and fragrances and are great for people with dry or sensitive skin. Moisturizers are extremely beneficial for dry skin and are the mainstay of treatment. You can moisturize many times a day with fragrant free lotion like aquaphor, vaseline, and hydrolated petrolatum. The thicker the cream/ointment, the better for dry skin and eczema, In general, ointments are thicker than both lotions and creams. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition in which there is a defect in skin molecules that help keep the skin hydrated, such as filaggrin. Eczema often runs in families and can be associated with asthma and allergies. Symptoms typically get worse during the cold months and can lead to itchy, dry skin. The mian aspect of eczema treatment is topical moisturizers as described above. Topical hydrocortisone cream may also be prescribed for more severe cases. There are other causes for dry, itchy skin that your primary care physician can evaluate. You should follow up to discuss any other symptoms and possible treatment options.
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