Medical Dermatology > Dry Skin

Dry Skin Care Instructions

Dry skin, also known as eczema, is a very common skin condition that is characterized by inflamed or irritated skin. A genetic component is possible in some cases, but in many cases, it is related to taking care of skin too well (excessive bathing, soap, or hot water). Age may also be a factor as well as the extent of humidity within your environment. Most cases are easily managed with appropriate treatments and habit changes.

Decrease the length and frequency of bathing, ideally to every other day or less. While this would seem unusual and unappealing, it is actually the best and easiest way to begin re-moisturizing the skin. Shorter shower times (less than 5 minutes) are important to keep the oils from you skin being washed away. Water temperature should be comfortably warm, not scorching hot.

Gentle moisturizing soaps (Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap) should be used to “dirty” areas only (underarms/groin). Other areas should be rinsed with plain water only. Shampoo hair quickly or turn off water while lathering. Try to avoid contact of shampoo and dry skin areas while rinsing.

Gently pat dry with a soft towel after showering. Do not dry too aggressively. Immediately lock in moisture with a heavy, bland cream (ie. Nivea cream, CeraVe Cream, Vanicream). If the skin feels dry later, reapply the moisturizer as often as you would like.


1. Shower less than 5 minutes.
2. Shower no more than once daily (ideally, every other day).
3. Use cooler water. Hot water is very drying.
4. Use Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap (unscented) only where needed (underarms/groin).
5. Immediately lock in moisture with a heavy cream.
6. Home humidifiers and water softeners are also helpful but not absolutely necessary.
7. Avoid dyes and fragrances in skincare products and laundry detergents.

If the dry skin is localized, apply a heavy lubricant such as Vaseline petroleum jelly to the area before showering. Petroleum jelly around the mouth prior to eating messy food can decrease dry skin problems in the area. Swimming and Spas also dry the skin. Application of petroleum jelly before entering will help to repel the damaging effects of the water.