As you age, your skin produces less of the natural oils that help
retain its moisture. Dry air can cause your skin to become dry, as can
excessive bathing with strong soaps and hot water. Dry skin is often
worse in the winter due to lower indoor humidity created by forced air
heat. The lower legs, forearms, hands, and scalp are especially prone to
dry skin. Without good home care, the skin can become red, cracked, and
prone to irritation and infections.
Avoid overexposure to the sun.
Humidify your home, particularly the bedrooms.
Use warm, not hot, water when you bathe. Hot water strips the skin's
natural oil, which helps hold in moisture. If possible, bathe less
Avoid strong detergents and deodorant soaps.
Limit use of perfumes and perfumed products.
Apply a moisturizer (Eucerin, Keri Lotion, Lubriderm, Vaseline) while
skin is still damp to seal in moisture.
A light layer of petroleum jelly is also an effective and inexpensive
moisturizer. Reapply lotion often.
Follow the prevention guidelines above.
Bathe every other day instead of every day.
Use warm or cool water and a gentle soap (Basis, Dove, Oil of Olay).
Use little or no soap on dry skin areas.
Pat dry with a towel; don't rub skin.
For very dry hands, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly and wear thin
cotton gloves to bed. (This may also help dry feet.)
Severely dry skin may require several treatments. Avoid scratching,
which damages the skin.