Feb. 01, 2019
There is an effective way to combat dry skin this winter–and year-round–-use a moisturizer.
Many things can cause dry skin, including weather, central heating, hot baths and showers, and harsh soaps and detergents. Medical conditions also can cause dry skin, such as diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disorder, and eczema. Applying a moisturizer can help relieve and prevent dry skin, protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and prevent infections.
Selecting the most effective moisturizer depends on many factors, including a person’s skin type, age, and whether a specific health condition exists.
The Mayo Clinic offers the following recommendations for using a moisturizer based on skin type:
- Normal skin. For skin that is neither too dry nor too oily, use a water-based moisturizer that has a light, non-greasy feel. These moisturizers often contain lightweight oils or silicone-derived ingredients.
- Dry skin. Choose a heavier, oil-based moisturizer. For very dry and cracked skin, petrolatum-based products are preferable. They have more staying power than creams and are more effective at preventing water from evaporating from the skin.
- Oily skin. Oily skin needs moisture, too, especially after using skin care products that remove oils and dry out the skin. Lotions generally contain a higher percentage of water than creams. They are easier to apply and are less likely to aggravate acne-prone skin. Choose a water-based product that is labeled noncomedogenic, which means it will not clog pores.
- Sensitive skin. Use a moisturizer that does not contain potential allergens, such as fragrances or dyes.
- Mature skin. Choose an oil-based moisturizer that contains petrolatum as the base, along with antioxidants or alpha hydroxy acids to combat wrinkles. These ingredients help hold in moisture and prevent flaky, scaly skin.
The National Eczema Association’s “Soak and Seal” method is recommended by many healthcare providers to combat dry skin. The process is as follows:
- Fill bath with warm water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
- After bathing, pat the skin lightly with a towel, leaving it slightly damp.
- Apply any prescription topical medication to affected areas of skin as directed.
- Within three minutes, liberally apply a moisturizer all over the body, preferably a cream.
- Wait a few minutes to let the moisturizer absorb into the skin before dressing or applying wet wraps.