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

Tips for Dry Itchy Skin

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

  1. Avoid all robbing 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. Some recommended cleansers include:

    a. CeraVe cleanser
    b. Dove for Sensitive Skin
    c. Aveeno baths
    d. Cetaphil soaplesss cleanser
    e. Vanicream cleansing bar

  4. After your bath, pat your skin dry and immediately apply moisturizer all over. Moisturizers can act as occlusives (to keep water in your skin), humectants (to prevent water loss), or emollients (to add moisture to your skin). In general, creams are more moisturizing than lotions. Ideally, a combination is best. Recommended moisturizers are:

    a. CeraVe cream or lotion
    b. Aquaphor ointment or petroleum jelly
    c. Cetaphil lotion or cream
    d. Vanicream moisturizer
    e. 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 and 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 contacting our office for an allergy patch test in attempt to help identify the possible offending agent.
  8. Prescription products are often necessary in severe cases of itching. Some examples include Keralac, Salex, Umecta, Novacort, Pramosone, and glycolic products with or without a short course of topical steroids. Combination antihistamines are often prescribed as an adjunct to topical treatment. Higher doses of antihistamines (such as Zyrtec) are needed to treat symptoms of itching (as opposed to those used for seasonal allergies).
  9. Humidifiers in the wintertime may also be helpful. Avoid wool products (especially socks and scarves) and fabric softeners, as they often cause excess itching and irritation of the skin.
  10. If you continue to itch despite adhering to these tips, we may order blood tests or consider allergy patch testing.