Tips for Dealing with Dry Itchy Skin

A lot of people experience dry, itchy skin due to different reasons. Some of them experience it during the winter season, while others during the summer season. There are also other things that may cause dry skin, such as stress, smoking, and sun exposure. Dry, itchy skin is also a chronic problem for other people, and it usually leads to skin cracking, thickening, and bleeding. Without proper care, having dry, itchy skin may also increase the risk of skin infections. 

Due to irritation, dry, itchy skin may also affect people’s sleep, and it may also be a symptom of a disease. Many elderly people also experience more trouble with dry, itchy skin due to the natural changes in their skin that occur with age. It’s because the skin can be drier when aging due to the loss of sweat and oil glands. 

Having dry, itchy skin is no fun, and it is indeed irritating. It makes your skin itch and urges you to scratch, which can make the condition worse. Most cases of dry, itchy skin are mild and may go away after a few days without any treatment. However, if it persists for over a couple of weeks and if it keeps you up at night, you need to be concerned and get your skin checked.[1]  

Dermatologists are the best doctors that may help you identify the cause of your dry, itchy skin and provide you with the needed treatment to bring you relief. Treatment for dry, itchy skin varies, and it mostly depends on the cause. If you frequently experience dry, itchy skin and are looking for ways how to cope with it, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you some tips for dealing with dry, itchy skin.

What is Dry and Itchy Skin?

person with dry, itchy skin

Dry and itchy skin occurs when the skin dries out because it does not have enough moisture. Most of the time, having dry skin is not a serious condition, but it can be irritating. However, if your dry skin is severe, seeing a doctor is important. 

Dry skin can be different for everyone since the symptoms depend on things such as your age, health, and the cause of your dry skin. But chances are, when you have dry skin, some of the symptoms you will experience include cracked skin, itching, peeling, flaking, scaling, redness, skin that feels rough, and skin that feels tight.[2]  

Different Types of Dry Skin

hand with dry, itchy skin

Even though dry skin is usually temporary, there are types of dry skin that could last the whole year. If your dry, itchy skin lasts a long time, it could be among these types:

Athlete’s Foot

If your feet are dry, it could be an athlete’s foot. It is a condition that results from a fungus that can make the soles of the feet dry and flaky.[2]

Contact Dermatitis

There are times when the things that touch your skin cause allergic reactions. This can make your skin become dry, itchy, and red. Aside from that, you might also get a rash from it. Contact dermatitis happens when things such as makeup products, detergents, medications, metal in jewelry, and more touch your skin.[2]


Eczema is also referred to as atopic dermatitis. Some of its signs are dry, red, and itchy parts of the skin. Aside from that, it can also make your skin crack. This type of dry, itchy skin can also be acquired from your parents. However, things like stress, allergens, and other irritants may also make the condition worse.[2] 

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This type of dry, itchy skin occurs when your scalp is too dry, which lead to dandruff. When babies get it, it is called a cradle cap. Seborrheic dermatitis may also occur on the arms, legs, groin, ears, face, or near the belly button.[2]

Causes of Dry and Itchy Skin

woman scratching her arm

As we’ve mentioned earlier, dry and itchy skin occurs due to various things. It can be environmental, such as a change in the weather, or caused by other irritants. Below are some of the causes and risk factors of dry, itchy skin:

Harsh Soaps and Detergents: We use soaps and shampoos to get rid of oil on the skin. We also use detergents to get our clothes clean. This means that soaps, shampoos, and detergents may also dry out our skin by stripping out all the moisture, which may also lead to itchiness.[2] 

Heat: The humidity in a room can be lowered by any heat source, such as from space heaters, central heating, fireplaces, and wood stoves. Low humidity in a room can also make your skin dry.[2]

Hot Baths or Showers: Another cause of dry, itchy skin is taking long, hot showers or soaking in a hot bath.[2]

Other Skin Conditions: People who have certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, can also get dry, itchy skin.[2] 

Swimming in Pools: Swimming pools contain chlorine, which is a chemical that keeps some pools clean. However, chlorine can also dry out your skin.[2]

Weather: Humidity and temperature usually drop during the winter. This can also make the skin drier, which may also lead to itchiness or irritation.[2]

Decreased Production of Sebum: For elderly adults, this is the most typical cause of dry, itchy skin. Sebaceous glands in the skin tend to become less numerous and less active as we become older. The oily fluid produced by sebaceous glands is known as sebum, and it is made up of a mixture of fatty acids, carbohydrates, waxes, and other organic compounds. It creates a shield to stop water from evaporating. Without enough of it, the skin will begin to dry up and lose moisture.

Loss of Existing Sebum: This is typically brought on by a person’s lifestyle, such as excessive exfoliation or rubbing of the skin, the use of harsh soaps that remove the sebum barrier, and frequent bathing or showering that causes sebum loss.

Environmental Conditions: Extreme environmental circumstances may also be too much for the skin’s built-in defenses. This is the main reason why people who live in arid areas experience dry, itchy skin. Dry skin can also be a result of too-dry indoor air. The majority of those affected by these illnesses are outdoor athletes who are frequently exposed to wind and sunlight. Swimmers frequently experience skin dryness as a result of the chemicals in pool water. These substances dehydrate the skin by removing its moisture. 

The majority of those affected by these illnesses are outdoor athletes who are frequently exposed to wind and sunlight. Swimmers frequently experience skin dryness as a result of the chemicals in pool water. These substances dehydrate the skin by removing its moisture. 

How to Deal with Dry and Itchy Skin

There are easy habits that may increase the natural moisture of the skin and prevent it from getting dehydrated and becoming itchy. Aside from that, there are also certain products that you can use that may help alleviate the dryness and itchiness of your skin. To further help you, below are some of the best tips that we can give when it comes to dealing with dry, itchy skin:

Take Shorter Showers

man taking a shower

Bathing or showering too often strips off the natural oils from the skin, which causes it to become dry. In addition to that, hot water also robs the skin of moisture. Therefore, if you have dry, itchy skin, you may follow these tips:[3] 

  • Only use lukewarm or cool water when showering or bathing.
  • Limit your shower time to ten minutes maximum.
  • To relieve itching, add some baby oil or oatmeal soaks to your bath. When using oil, be mindful to prevent slipping when exiting the tub.
  • Pat yourself dry gently using a towel and avoid vigorous rubbing.
  • Utilize a humidifier in your bedroom when you sleep.

Avoid Using Scented Soaps

bath soaps on a towel

While it’s true that deodorant bath soaps can leave you smelling fresh and great, the ingredients that most of them contain can actually strip moisture from your skin. They can trigger your urge to itch. Therefore, it is best to limit the use of such soaps to body areas prone to odor, like the groin area, feet, and armpits.

For other parts of your body, it is better to use a mild cleanser. If your skin is prone to dryness, using unscented bath soaps and those labeled “for sensitive skin” are the best choices when taking a bath. Using soaps and body washes that are fragrant can lead to dry, itchy skin. 

Some people may also get dry, itchy skin as a result of coming into touch with specific dyes or scents that are present in these soaps. Avoiding such irritants can often help prevent skin discomfort. Therefore, avoid products that are perfumed or scented, even when it comes to detergents and fabric softeners.[3] 

Eat for Skin Health

woman eating healthy foods

There are no foods that can relieve dry, itchy skin. But a healthy eating pattern may help support healthy skin. Foods having anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful for those with inflammatory skin problems that cause dryness and itching. Below are some of these foods:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Brightly colored fruits such as oranges, strawberries, and blueberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
  • Flax oil and flaxseed
  • Olive oil
  • Oily fish such as salmon and tuna

It is also better to choose whole grains instead of refined ones. In addition, minimizing added sugar may also help achieve healthy skin.[3] 

Always Moisturize the Skin

woman moisturizing her skin

If you have dry, itchy skin, moisturizing it daily is important. You can do this after you shower, bathe, or wash your hands, while the skin is still damp. Also, if you can tolerate the greasy feeling, pick a moisturizer that is thick, gooey, and heavy.[3]  

According to skin care experts, ointments, or those called emollients, like petroleum jelly, are the best for dry, itchy skin. It’s because they help seal the skin and prevent water loss. However, their greasy feel may be a turn-off for others. Next to ointments are creams. Lotions are not as effective as ointments and creams, but they usually feel better on the skin. These products are often water-based, and the water quickly evaporates when applied to the skin. 

When choosing moisturizers, you need to pick those that are free of dyes, fragrances, and other possible irritants. Ensure that the label says the product is hypoallergenic. Frequent hand washing may also lead to dry skin. Therefore, placing a tube of hand moisturizer next to the sink is a good idea.[3] Moisturizers should also be applied to the skin frequently to relieve the signs and symptoms of dryness. They can help prevent the recurrence of dry skin.

For more information, you may check out our Guide to Selecting Moisturizing Solutions for Your Skin.

Use Anti-Itch Creams

woman applying cream on her shoulder

It is important to treat itchy skin as it can lead to eczema or dermatitis. There are many over-the-counter anti-itch creams or ointments that contain 1% hydrocortisone. These creams may offer some relief. In addition to that, below are the different types of anti-itch creams that you can choose from:

  • Hydrocortisone: This is a kind of steroid-medicated cream that can help reduce itching, swelling, and redness on the skin.
  • Diphenhydramine: This is an antihistamine cream that is used for treating allergic reactions. 
  • Pramoxine: This is a type of topical cream that is used as an anesthetic or numbing agent on the skin. 

There are lots of soothing and effective anti-itch creams that you can buy in drug stores today. Many of them can be purchased over the counter, particularly those that contain lower doses. 

Things to Avoid When Choosing a Moisturizer

While using moisturizers like ointments, creams, and lotions is one of the best ways to deal with dry, itchy skin, there are still some things that you need to avoid when using these products. Below are some of them:

Overuse of Steroidal Ingredients

Most products for itchy skin contain steroidal ingredients. If your moisturizer contains these ingredients, it is important to limit using them to only one or two weeks. It’s because using them for a longer period can make the skin very thin and may lead to other skin issues. Therefore, unless your dermatologist prescribes a moisturizer with these ingredients, try to avoid them.

Urea or Lactic Acids

Urea or lactic acids are commonly used for treating cracked skin and eczema. Therefore, if you are not suffering from these conditions and you simply have sensitive skin, you need to stay away from these moisturizers. It’s because urea or lactic acids may aggravate existing skin irritations. 

Colorings and Perfumes

If your goal is to moisturize dry skin, sensitive skin, or something in between, you need to avoid unnecessary and potentially irritating ingredients, such as perfumes and added colors. Aside from that, you should also skip using products that contain antibacterial agents, as they can be harsh and can strip skin of essential oils.


Dealing with dry, itchy skin is certainly challenging. There are times when certain products won’t work for your skin, and you need to find another one until you get the best one that will match your skin’s condition. If you are still constantly trying new creams in the battle against itchy skin, the solution may be simpler than you think. 

You can try to stick with one simple solution first and see if it works. For instance, you can lessen your shower time. If it does not work, then move on to another solution. Finding a good moisturizer and using some anti-itch creams might be all you need to relieve dry, itchy skin. However, if your skin condition does not improve after a few weeks, or if you ever notice it becoming worse, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or dermatologist to get the proper treatment. We hope this post helped you learn more about the best ways to deal with dry, itchy skin. 

You can also read our article on How to Avoid Inner Thigh Chafing to learn about the best tips that you can follow for this skin issue.


[1] Scripps, E. (2022, February 24). What are treatments for dry, itchy skin? Scripps Health. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from

[2] Pathak, N. (Ed.). (2021, October 12). 7 tips to soothe your dry, Itchy Skin. WebMD. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from

[3] Miller, K. (2021, October 12). Itching from dry skin: Prevention and treatment. WebMD. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from