Dry Skin Management Handout

Dry Skin Management Handout

Chris Schach

Author Bio -


Dry skin (xerosis or asteatosis) occurs when moisture and barrier oils are lost from the epidermis.  This leads to cracks in the skin.....like a dry river bed.  Dry skin tends to be itchy.  On going dry skin with resultant scratching may lead to red, inflamed and scaly patches. This itchy inflamed skin condition is known as eczema or dermatitis.

Eczema (dermatitis) is not contagious.  While certain allergies may worsen eczema


  1. Soap is irritating to the skin of persons with dry skin or dermatitis
  1. Wool acts like sandpaper on dry skin.  Wool blankets
  1. Dry skin may lead to dermatitis.  Low humidity robs the skin of its moisture.  Keep the skin moist with bland emollients such as CeraVe or Cetaphil cream.  These are most beneficial when applied over wet skin after bathing.  Use an ointment like Vaseline petroleum jelly or aquaphor to the most severe cases of dry skin.  Sometimes creams or lotions will sting or burn when applied to raw skin.   A room humidifier/cool mister is helpful during the winter months.  
  1. Emotions – The tiny skin blood vessels are under control of the sympathetic nervous system.  We blush with embarrassment
  1. The time of year – Most people with dry skin or dermatitis are worse in the winter and improve during the summer. 
  1. Geographical area – The place you live rarely makes any real difference.  Dry skin and eczema (dermatitis) occurs in all peoples of all nations of the world.   
  1. Scratching – Dry skin and dermatitis is commonly known to get worse with scratching.  Persons with dry skin or dermatitis itch much more easily than those who do not have eczema.  Rubbing and scratching worsen eczema – it is very important to minimize scratching.  Eczema does not cause scars but scratching may.
  1. Diets – Special elimination diets are seldom of help in dry skin or eczema.  A normal


  1. Avoid things that irritate – Fragrance
  2. Control the dry skin – Special soap substitutes should be used.  Bathe no more than once daily.  After bathing apply the prescribed medications or a lubricating cream or ointment to the moist skin to help keep water in the skin. 
  3. Apply a cortisone preparation to the areas of eczema or that itch as directed
  4. Control scratching – Stockings over hands may help control scratching in children.  Keep fingernails trimmed.  Antihistamines (used as anti-itch medications) are helpful
  5. In severe cases of eczema or for flare ups