Dry and flaky skin is one of the common conditions seen in patients with eczema, especially in the fall and winter. Although ordinary dry skin might only be unsightly or uncomfortable, excessively dry skin can lead to lead to cracked skin with fissures. It can even lead to terrible itch that can drive the most disciplined person to scratch incessantly for relief. Some of my patients have confessed that the itch was so intense that they just kept on scratching despite bleeding. At times, the itch can lead to disruption in sleep and even skin infections from scratching. Here are 10 do’s and don’ts that will help you keep winter itch away.
Steps to prevent itch:
1. Do apply moisturizers (such as our natural eczema ointment) immediately after showering while there is still water on your body. The moisturizers help to seal the water over the skin and prevent it from evaporating. If you have very dry skin, consider using a thick textured moisturizer, such as ointment.
2. Do use a humidifier in the room, especially in the bedroom.
3. Do wear clothes with natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk. Avoid wool.
4. Do seek professional help from a dermatologist if you are not making any progress with your itchy and dry skin.
Actions that will make itch worse:
5. Don’t take very hot and prolonged showers. Although it is soothing and relaxing at the moment, those long hot showers will dry your skin.
6. Don’t scrub your skin dry with towels. The rough scrubbing irritates the skin. Just pat your skin dry with a towel after showering.
7. Don’t sit next to a radiator, heater or fireplace for extended periods of time. Heat exposure will further dry out the skin.
8. Don’t wash with harsh soaps or cleansers, which can strip away all the lipids on the skin.
9. Don’t scratch. It is easy to say but hard to follow. Read about the Itch-Scratch cycle.
10. Don’t wait for your skin to dry. Use moisturizers on a daily basis even when it is calm and healthy.
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