Maybe it's the winter months, According to Dr. Leslie Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology, dry skin is a condition that is characterized by the lack of less than 10% water content in the stratum corneum (uppermost layer of the skin).
According to Cosmetic Dermatology, agents that can lead to dry skin include hot water, detergents, friction from clothing, frequent air travel, pollution, certain chemicals, and air conditioning.
Although pleasant, hot water can rob your skin of much-needed moisture. Try to limit yourself to water that is warm at best for no longer than 10-15 minutes, according to the University of Iowa Health Center.
Dr. Audrey Kunin, a Kansas City-based dermatologist suggests in The DermaDoctor Skinstruction Manual to use Balnetar Therapeutic Tar Bath ($23.00, Amazon.com) is commonly used by individuals with psoriasis. According to Kunin, "The tar helps alleviate the itching and flaking, while the oil base helps hydrate dry, cracking skin." As with any bubble bath, watch out for the slippery tub afterwards! Avoid soap, which can be drying. An excellent choice for body wash for dry skin is California Baby Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Shampoo and Shower Gel ($9.95, Amazon.com), with hydrating oils, anti-bacterial tea tree oil, and soothing lavender. For hands, in the winter months, keep a gentle all-purpose cleanser like Cetaphil instead of soap by the sink, and carry a hydrating hand cream with you. One of my favorites is the facial cream Olay Regenerist UV -- it's small enough to fit into most purses, and with niacinamide and vitamin C to treat signs of aging, as well as additional antioxidants and sunscreen to prevent aging, it works great as a great hand cream year-round!
Kunin recommends the Aquis bath towel ($16.99, Amazon.com) which "looks like a towel, but works like a sponge" to quickly remove water fro the skin before evaporation has an opportunity to dehydrate it.
After you towel dry, increase the moisture content in your skin by applying the right moisturizers immediately. For the body, Kunin recommends switching between creams. Use "passive protectants" during dry periods to hydrate and enhance the skin barrier, like Eucerin Cream ($15.70, Amazon.com) or Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Care Cream ($5.95, Amazon.com). Then, when skin is more calm, switch to an "active moisturizer" to exfoliate and soften the skin, like AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Cream (pictured above; $14.99, Amazon.com) or DERMAdoctor KP Duty ($36.00, Amazon.com). In addition, according to the University of Iowa, particularly red patches should be treated with a cortisone gel for 5-15 days. One particularly helpful piece of advice featured in this article said that, if it makes your skin redder and itchier than it was before, you should stop use and talk to your doctor.
Humidifiers can help to infuse dry fall and winter air with much-needed moisture.
Don't let the environment strip your body's skin of much-needed moisture in the winter. Limit the time and temperature of your showers and baths, use bath oils and hydrating shower gels, towel dry and moisturize immediately after, switch between moisturizers, and try to get a humidifier. These five steps should help alleviate that dry skin! :-)