Dryness occurs when the skin loses moisture or cannot retain it. Heated air indoors during winter, bathing too often and using harsh soaps can contribute to dry skin. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that dry skin occurs most frequently on the lower legs, sides of the abdomen and thighs, although the condition may appear anywhere on the body. Extremely dry skin can lead to scaling, cracking, flaking and irritation. Natural remedies can typically resolve the problem. However, consult your doctor if dryness and itching interfere with your sleep--or if home treatment does not improve your condition.
Applying moisturizer to dry skin creates a seal that prevents moisture from escaping. Try an oil-based moisturizer, such as baby oil, for extremely dry skin because it lasts longer than other types of moisturizers. Natural oils, including avocado, jojoba and almond, also help keep dry skin hydrated. For best results, apply oil to your skin immediately after bathing. Pat your skin dry with a towel, but allow some moisture to remain on the surface. Apply oil generously, trapping moisture in and preventing your skin from drying out too quickly.
Sea salt can hydrate even the driest skin when used in a bath or as a salt scrub. In the book “1,801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems,” the Reader's Digest Association suggests adding a cup of sea salt to a tub of warm water and soaking for at least 20 minutes to nourish extremely dry skin. Combine 1 cup coarse sea salt with 1/4 cup vegetable glycerin to create a nourishing salt scrub for dry skin. Rub the mixture over your skin in a circular motion, and rinse with warm water. Follow with an oil-based moisturizer for best results. Do not use sea salt if you have open wounds, however, as you may experience painful burning.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel has soothing, healing and moisturizing properties when used topically on extremely dry skin, according to Phyllis A. Balch in “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” It works especially well on flaky skin, as it gently sloughs away the top layer of dead skin cells. Apply a thin layer of 100 percent pure aloe vera gel to affected areas. If your skin absorbs the gel, you don't need to rinse. If any of the gel remains on your skin after about 20 minutes, however, rinse with warm water. Repeat the process once or twice daily, or simply replace your regular moisturizer with aloe gel.
Honey tightens, softens and moisturizes dry skin. Brigitte Mars, author of “Beauty By Nature,” suggests applying pure honey directly to extremely dry skin, and tapping the area lightly with your fingertips for about 2 minutes. This increases circulation at the site, and encourages deeper moisturizing action. Rinse well with warm water, and apply moisturizer afterward. Repeat the honey treatment at least once a day to help soothe your dry skin.
- “1,801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems”; Reader's Digest; 2004
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”; Phyllis A. Balch; 2006
- “Beauty By Nature”; Brigitte Mars; 2006
Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.