ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have extremely dry skin?

Question

Why do I have extremely dry skin?

I am a 43 year old male and I have been dealing with dry skin my whole entire life. I have tried many over the counter lotions for extreme dry skin and nothing seems to work.I mosturize every morning after taking a shower and by the end of the day I have scratched my skin so hard I have literally broken the skin. My problem has affected my life so much I literally have scars all over my body. I do like taking hot showers. Is there anything over the counter I can try or do I need to seek professional help for my problem?

Answer

You definitely need to seek medical help for this problem! No one should have to deal with such severe dry skin alone, and it is likely that if it is as bad as this then you are probably dealing with a skin disease. The most likely disease you would have would be eczema, which is a condition in which the molecules that keep the skin well hydrated are missing. This leads to dryness, redness, itching, and scaling or cracking. It is true that the mainstay of treating eczema is moisturizing. This involves avoiding hot showers and skin irritations (although soaking in a bathtub may be helpful, as it adds moisture back to the skin). It also involves moisturizing multiple times a day. Preferably, you should use a thick 'greasy' moisturizer like hydrolated petrolatum, as these are better at trapping in moisture and protecting the skin. Most normal lotions and creams are too light to be of much help. However, most severe eczema also requires steroid creams in addition to moisturizer in order to get things under control. This is the part of the regimen that your doctor can help you with, and you should definitely see either a dermatologist or a primary care doctor as soon as possible.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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