How to ditch dry skin: A dermatologist’s top tips for nourished, glowing skin

Skin Care

by Katherine Hutka Fiala, MD

Aug 4, 2022

Dry skin can be itchy and unpleasant. If you’ve lathered on the lotion to no avail, you’re probably fed up with dry skin. But there’s good news—you don’t have to feel like an alligator. It turns out there are a few easy ways to soothe dry skin and get it glowing again.

I discuss dry skin tips every day with my patients, so you’re not alone. Dermatologists like me help treat a number of skin conditions, including dry skin (xerosis) and eczema. While seeing a dermatologist may be your best bet for stubborn dry skin or serious skin conditions, there are a few things you can do at home to keep your skin nourished and healthy.

Why your skin is dry in the first place

Our skin plays a vital role in protecting our bodies. It shields against the environment, protects from bacteria and helps regulate sweat glands. With all our skin does for us, it gets a lot of wear and tear. Depending on your history and environment, you may be more prone to dry skin.

Dry skin can be a frustrating skin problem. Ideally, your skin gets moisture from sweat glands and tissues beneath the skin, and then oil helps to hold onto the moisture. If your body has a hard time holding onto the water and oil that it needs to keep skin moist, you end up with dry skin.

There are many reasons you may have dry skin, but here are some common explanations.

Fish-like skin (Ichhtyosis)

This is a congenital condition that can be passed down through a family in which the skin is extremely dry, like scales on a fish.


People with eczema have problems with a protein called filaggrin, which helps protect the outer layer of skin from elements as well as help prevent water loss.

CERTAIN medical conditions

Both diabetes and hypothyroidism can lead to drier skin.


As we age, our body loses water more easily and we are more prone to dry skin.


Living in a dry climate with low humidity can dry out your skin. Using harsh soaps or detergents or too much water can also cause dryness, since your skin can’t keep the needed oils.

What you can do to treat and prevent dry skin

Here are some ideas to help treat dry skin.

In the shower

  • Keep it short, under 10 minutes. The more you get wet and dry off, the more you are removing vital oils from your skin.
  • Try lukewarm water. Long, hot showers are not good for dry skin.
  • Stop using harsh soaps that tend to dry out the skin more and instead switch to a gentle soap.

Often, especially for my older patients, just a simple change in body soap from a harsh one to a gentle, sensitive-skin, fragrance-free soap or body wash makes all the difference.

After the shower

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Applying lotions or creams immediately after a shower is the most effective approach to dry skin. A dermatologist can help with recommendations on specific products for your skin.

During the changing seasons

In the winter, dry skin is even worse. The weather is less humid and heaters are running and drying out our indoor environment even more. Having a cold water humidifier can help in the winter. In the summer, remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

Need help keeping your skin healthy? Find a dermatologist near you.

About the Author

Katherine Fiala, MD, is a dermatologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Clinic – Temple.

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