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By Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD, FAAD

Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD, FAADDry skin is a frequent complaint heard by dermatologists. Dry skin can result from exposure to harsh conditions, such as dry, winter air, or can be the result of a hereditary condition, such as ichthyosis vulgaris.

  • The skin naturally gets drier as we get older, and use of moisturizers becomes more important

  • Dry skin is one of the most common causes of itching in older persons.

  • Overbathing and excessive use of soap can dry the skin. Limit bathing or showering to once daily, and use mild cleansers only where really needed: face, armpits, in skin folds, in the groin area. Unless the arms or legs are really dirty, aggressive washing will just dry them out.

  • Apply moisturizers immediately following the bath or shower. Pat the skin dry, then apply moisturizer from head to toe!

  • There are many good moisturizers available; find one that you like the smell and feel of and use it! (It doesn't work in the jar...) Thicker, petrolatum-based moisturizers may be more effective than lotions, but can be messy or less comfortable under clothes, so some people use them at night and use a lotion during the day. People prone to allergies should look for fragrance-free products.

  • Sometimes, what is thought to be "dry skin" is actually inflamed. See a dermatologist if:
    • Your dry skin does not improve with use of emollients
    • If there is significant redness
    • If the condition is getting worse with treatment.

"America's Ethnic Skin: an Al Roker Health Special" was sponsored by
AMBI ® Skincare through a grant from Johnson& Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.

Women's Dermatologic Society
Toll-Free: 1-877-WDS-ROSE (937-7673)
eMail: wds@womensderm.org | www.playsafeinthesun.org

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