Joy Chastain, M.D., Athens Dermatologist Dermatology logo for print

Joy B. Chastain, M.D., F.A.A.D.

Address: 1500 Oglethorpe Avenue, Suite 3000, Athens, GA 30606
Phone: 706-543-1335 • Fax: 706-543-1395

Joy B. Chastain, M.D., F.A.A.D. Melissa Cannon, PA-C

Dry/Itchy Skin


Dry skin is the number one cause of general itching of the body and is often more severe during the winter months. Itching is made worse by anything that is overly drying or irritating to the skin.
The following tips are recommended for dry, itchy skin:

  1. Avoid all rubbing alcohol preparations, as they cause significant drying of the skin.
  2. Avoid very hot baths, as they can trigger itching; lukewarm is best.
  3. Bathe with a mild soap and try to avoid long baths. Lengthy baths tend to pull water out of the skin, leaving the skin severely dehydrated and more itchy.
    Some recommended cleaners found in most drugstores include:
    1. Cerave cleanser (new as of January, 2005)
    2. Dove for Sensitive Skin
    3. Aveeno baths
    4. Cetaphil soapless cleanser
    5. Purpose soap

  4. After your bath, pat your skin dry and immediately apply moisturizer all over. Moisturizers can act as occlusives (keeps water in your skin), humectants (prevents water loss), or emollients (adds moisture to your skin). Ideally, a combination is best.
    Recommended moisturizers for the body iclude:
    1. Cerave cream or lotion
    2. Aquaphor ointment or petroleum jelly
    3. Cetaphil cream or lotion
    4. Vanicream moisturizer
    5. Eucerin anti-itch cream

  5. It may be necessary to reapply moisturizer every six hours.
  6. Try not to scratch your skin. Scratching actually makes your skin become even more itchy, leading to excoriations, erosions, and even skin infections.
  7. Watch out for irritants and allergens in moisturizers (such as fragrances and preservatives) which can worsen already inflamed skin. If you continue to itch after using a particular product, consider scheduling an appointment to discuss allergy patch testing in attempts to help identify the possible offending agent.
  8. Prescription products are often necessary to alleviate severe cases of dry skin leading to itching.  Combination antihistamines are often prescribed as an adjunct to topical treatment. Higher than usual doses are needed to treat symptoms of itching.
  9. Humidifiers in the wintertime may also be helpful. Avoid wool products (especially socks and scarves), as they are often causes excessive itching and irritation of the skin.
  10. Avoid fabric softeners and always use detergents that are free of irritants and fragrances, including Cheer Free and All Free detergents. 
  11. If you continue to itch despite adhering to these tips, we may order blood tests and will discuss allergy patch testing during your next office visit.