May 01, 2019

Care for dry skin

Dry skin is the most common cause of itching in older adults. Keep your skin healthy by:

  • Keeping baths and showers short and warm, not hot — Hot water can deplete natural oils in your skin. Bathing with water at about 90 F helps minimize this, as does keeping bathing times to less than 10 minutes.
  • Cleansing gently — Most of the time, use soap only on the face, underarms, genital area, hands and feet. Even then, cleanse gently and use mild, superfatted or glycerin soaps or dry skin cleansers from brands such as Cetaphil, Dove or Vanicream. Avoid aggressive scrubbing and lying in soapy water or a bubble bath. Many soaps — such as antibacterial, perfumed and deodorant soaps — can be harsh on the skin.
  • Drying yourself gently — Brush excess water off with your hands and pat or blot yourself with a towel. Leave your skin moist. Avoid rubbing or wiping your skin dry.
  • Moisturizing — Within a couple of minutes of bathing, apply moisturizing cream or ointment to trap moisture in your skin. A product in which petrolatum is one of the top three ingredients may be best. Products containing glycerin, lactic acid or urea may provide an extra boost.
  • Using a humidifier when air is dry — This is particularly helpful during the winter months if you live in a cold climate.
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