9 Expert-Approved Tips to Get Rid of Dry, Itchy Skin

There's so much more you could be doing than moisturizing.

Whether your dry skin stems from genetics or external factors, we all know it can be downright uncomfortable. Between the flakiness, dullness, and tautness, it can often feel like a hassle to get rid of. While it might be a bit tedious, though, it isn’t impossible. First, let’s break down what causes dry skin: Celebrity Facialist, Taylor Worden, explains that dry skin is a skin type and is due to a lack of oil or sebum in the skin. It shouldn’t be confused with dehydrated skin, which lacks water and is typically caused by external factors, such as drying skincare products or harsh winds.

Most people with a dry complexion also experience itchiness, which board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., says can be caused by multiple factors. Some include inflammation, which can trigger skin concerns like eczema, kidney and liver disease, in addition to dry skin itself. So, the big question is, how do we deal with dry, itchy skin? We know moisturizing is a must, but there are other things you could try to help alleviate symptoms. Find out what they are with the help of these two skin care professionals.

How to get rid of dry, itchy skin:

1. Moisturize with the right ingredients.

According to Dr. King, moisturizers need to contain three components: humectants, emollients, and occlusives.

  • Humectant substances have a low molecular weight that draws water and moisture into the skin. Common humectants you might’ve heard of are hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
  • Occlusives are oils and waxes, which form a barrier on the skin to prevent transepidermal water loss, which is when much-needed moisture escapes our skin and goes into the air. Occlusive ingredients include petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, silicones, lanolin, and zinc oxide.

When choosing a moisturizer for dry, itchy skin, Dr. King says to look for formulas that contain all three components, such as the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream as it’s suitable for all skin types and can be used on your face and body.

2. Moisturize directly after you shower.

Worden says the best time to moisturize is while your skin is still damp after bathing. “After your shower, pat your skin instead of rubbing it dry,” she adds, saying that doing so will keep more moisture on the skin so that when you apply your moisturizer, it locks in that moisture and prevents transepidermal water loss and, therefore, hydrates your skin.

3. Avoid long, hot showers.

We know that there are very few things that are cozier than a relaxing hot shower or bath. Unfortunately, though, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains that taking long, hot showers can exacerbate dry skin and itchiness. “Showers should be brief, seven minutes or less, using lukewarm water, and no more than once per day,” affirms Dr. King.

4. Avoid harsh skincare ingredients.

The AAD says dry skin types should be wary of formulas with potentially irritating ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, fragrance, retinol, and alcohol as they can dry your skin out. Instead, Dr. King says to opt for gentle, hydrating formulas and to consult with a professional before incorporating anything different into your regimen for the best advice.

5. Invest in a humidifier.

Do you ever feel like your skin gets flakier or itchier when cooped up inside with the heat or air conditioner on blast? The Mayo Clinic says artificial heating and cooling can take the moisture out of the air and parch your skin, worsening itchiness. Dr. King recommends buying a humidifier to restore that moisture and keep a comfortable temperature in your home. 

6. Drink lots of water.

You can always benefit from keeping your body healthy from the inside out. “It’s important to consume enough water and electrolytes to keep the body well hydrated and consume enough healthy fats to support the skin barrier,” says Dr. King. While it may not be a cure-all for dry skin, it can especially help if your dryness is due to dehydration. 

7. Wear soft, loose clothing.

Avoid tight clothing made of irritating fabrics, which can worsen your dryness and itchiness. Instead, the Mayo Clinic recommends dry skin types stick to natural fibers, such as cotton and silk, which allows the skin to breathe.

8. Switch your laundry detergent.

A secret culprit you may not realize is aggravating your dry skin is your laundry detergent. The AAD says to use hypoallergenic formulas if you have dry skin to avoid irritation.

9. Opt for anti-itch formulas.

According to Dr. King, all of these tips should help to ease itchiness associated with dryness. However, “if itch persists, then it can be helpful to add ingredients that specifically address itch,” she says. She recommends Sarna Original Anti-Itch Lotion, which contains ingredients to moisturize and support the skin barrier.

Give these tips a try and if you’re still experiencing stubborn dry, itchy skin, consult with a dermatologist to determine the best treatment plan for you.