Combating dry skin requires a combination approach of adding moisture to the skin, sealing it in and avoiding behavior or products that sap natural skin oils and moisture. Try these tips to prevent dry skin (xerosis):

  • Shower or bathe daily, but keep it short. Water helps hydrate the skin, but after five to 10 minutes, it works against you. Use warm water instead of hot, which removes natural skin oils. After gently drying your skin, apply emollient (moisturizer) within three minutes to seal in the water.
  • Use a mild skin cleanser. Whether you choose soap, body wash or gel, choose one that contains a moisturizer and is free of deodorants, fragrances and alcohol.
  • Moisturize daily and consistently. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating to dry, sensitive skin than are lotions. Choose products that contain lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerine, lanolin, mineral oil and petroleum jelly. Avoid those with alpha-hydroxy acid.
  • Invest in a humidifier. It will add moisture to your home’s air in the winter and in dry weather.
  • Avoid rough materials. Steer clear of wool and other fabrics that may irritate dry skin. Try smooth cotton fabrics instead.
  • Protect your hands. The hands' skin takes the most abuse. Wear proper gloves when outdoors in cold weather and when your hands are immersed in water. Don't skimp on hand washing, but do moisturize after washing and sanitizing.
  • Wear sunscreen daily. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply every day, even in winter, to any exposed skin. Don't forget a lip balm with sunscreen, too.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 29 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 29 Jul 2013