8 Home Remedies for Dry Skin

Medically reviewed by Kathryn Watson on April 20, 2017Written by Sarah Taylor, MD

Dry skin

Dry skin (xerosis) is a common condition with many causes. Dry skin can be a symptom that indicates a more serious diagnosis. But in most cases, dry skin is caused by environmental factors that remove moisture from the skin. Heat, hot showers, arid climates, and harsh soaps can all trigger dry skin. But, there’s a lot you can do to address dry skin and restore moisture using home remedies.

1. Coconut oil

Coconut oil has emollient properties. Emollients fill the spaces between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. That’s why the saturated fatty acids that occur naturally in the coconut can hydrate and smooth the skin.

You can use coconut oil daily on even the most sensitive parts of the body. These include the area underneath your eyes and around your mouth. Another advantage of coconut oil is that you don’t need to mix it with anything. Coconut is gentle enough for substantial everyday use.

2. Petroleum jelly

According to a study, petroleum jelly products can heal skin in older adults. Petroleum jelly, also known as mineral oil, covers the skin in a protective layer. It traps moisture underneath. This helps heal dry, irritated skin patches.

3. Oatmeal baths

Oatmeal is common folk remedy for irritated skin. A recent study showed why grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been recommending this home remedy for centuries: It works. Colloidal oatmeal has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation. This remedy is especially effective if you’re seeking to relieve itching. Make sure after your bath you also moisturize your skin to lock in the barrier.

You can make an oatmeal bath at home. Or use a food processor to chop oatmeal into a fine powder, then put it into warm water. You can also try one of the many commercial products available to make an oatmeal soak.

4. Antioxidants and omega-3s

When your skin is dry, it means you’re exposing it to elements that are damaging skin cells faster than your body can repair them. There are some foods that can help your skin appear healthier, according to the Mayo Clinic. Foods rich in antioxidants can minimize damage from toxins and help your body make healthy cells. Some of the foods that contribute to skin health include:

  • blueberries
  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, may also be a contributor to a glowing-skin diet.

5. Insulated gloves

Hands tend to experience the most direct contact with environmental irritants. These include dish soap and laundry detergent. Your hands also take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop and you’re working outside in the cold. Wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores, or when you’re outside in extreme temperatures can cut down on dry, irritated skin.

6. Adjust your shower temperature

The American Academy of Dermatology notes sometimes relieving dry skin is as simple as changing your shower routine. While most people tend to take hot showers, these can scald the skin and cause damage. And some soaps that claim to moisturize and repair the skin can cause the opposite effect. They can trigger allergic reactions and make the skin thinner with harsh chemicals. Take short showers with water that’s warm, not hot. And look for soaps that are fragrance-free and gentler on skin than traditional soaps.

7. Use a humidifier

Keeping a humidifier in your home can help minimize the dryness caused by home heating systems. Though gas and electric heat strip moisture from the air, a humidifier set to 60 percent is enough to offset this effect, according to the Harvard Medical School.

8. Avoid allergens and irritants

A sudden occurrence of dry skin might be connected to the clothes you’re wearing or what you’ve exposed your skin to. Sitting by the fireplace, spending time in chlorinated or chemically-treated water, or even wearing wool clothing can all irritate your skin and make it feel dry. Check what you’re putting your skin through, and try to treat it gently.

Prevention

It’s important to preserve healthy skin. Your skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. When your skin is compromised by itching, an infection can occur. You may want to incorporate a good moisturizer into your daily routine, even when your skin isn’t bothering you. In fact, maintaining a healthy skin barrier daily is one of the best ways to prevent outbreaks of dry skin. Another essential skincare tip is to use a moisturizing sunscreen every day to prevent skin damage and dryness. Make sure to wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing that draws sweat away from the skin when you’re exposed to high temperatures or skin-irritating conditions.

Remember that extremely dry skin can be an indication of a more serious condition. If home remedies aren’t helping, you may need to see a doctor to get a prescription treatment to relieve your dry skin.

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