Signs & Symptoms

  1. Itchy skin. The skin can be red from scratching it.

  2. Chapped skin.

  3. Skin cracks, peels, and/or flakes.


  1. Aging. The body naturally produces less oil and moisture.

  2. Cold winter weather. Dry air or heat.

  3. Washing the skin often. Using harsh skin products.

  4. Chronic and excessive sun exposure.

  5. Allergies. An underactive thyroid gland. Diabetes. Kidney disease. Other skin conditions, such as psoriasis.


Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

  1. Drink 8 or more glasses of water a day.

  2. Apply an oil-based lotion daily.

  3. Wear rubber gloves when you wash dishes.

  4. Take showers instead of baths. Use warm (not hot) water. Try sponge baths.

  5. Apply a moisturizing cream while your skin is damp. Use products with lanolin.

  6. If you do bathe, do so for only 15 to 20 minutes in lukewarm water. Pat yourself dry. Do not rub.

  7. Put soap on a washcloth, not right on the skin.

  8. Use a mild liquid soap, like Cetaphil lotion or use a fatted soap. Avoid deodorant, medicated, or alkaline soaps.

  9. Don’t use moisturizers with fragrances, preservatives, or alcohol.

  10. Use a night cream for the face.

  11. Stay out of the strong sun. Do not use tanning salons. When in the sun, use a sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

  12. Don’t scratch or rub dry skin.

Common Health Problems  »  Skin Conditions

With dry skin, do you have any of these problems?

  1. Tight, shiny, or hardened skin.

  2. Deep cracks on the hands or feet.

  3. Itchy skin areas that are raised, have red borders, and are covered with large white or silver-white scales.

  4. Signs of hypothyroidism.

  5. Diabetes and the dry skin is troublesome.

With dry skin, do signs of an infection occur, such as fever, blisters, redness, swelling, pain, tenderness and/or pus?

With dry skin, do you itch all over (without a rash), does itching prevent sleep, or do you get no relief from self-care?

Dr. Heck recalls the causes associated with dry skin, shares the long-term risk factors when dry skin is not moisturized, and describes the treatments for dry skin.


American Academy of Dermatology

888.462.DERM (462.3376)

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Dry skin is not a serious health risk. It can be managed with self-care. When dry skin is a symptom of a health problem, treating the problem treats the dry skin.