How to Improve Extremely Dry Skin

by Heather Topham Wood ; Updated July 18, 2017

Close up of dry skin.

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Extremely dry skin is common in the winter months, when indoor heating systems strip the skin of moisture. It is important to take care of extremely dry skin or risk more severe conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis. These medical conditions cause inflammation, scaling and itching on the surface of the skin. If you are unable to get rid of your very dry skin on your own, speak to a doctor for further advice.

Bathe in cool water. Avoid hot water, which acts as a solvent and removes oils that moisturize the skin. Keep baths and showers short, under 10 minutes long. Bathing every other day can also help extremely dry skin.

Moisturize the skin right after bathing, which is the best time to lock in any moisture left on the surface of the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you apply moisturizer within three minutes after getting out of the water.

Rub on an ointment type of moisturizer, such as petroleum jelly. If the greasy consistency is an issue, use an oil- or cream-based moisturizer.

Apply a topical steroid cream to very dry areas with red bumps to relieve inflammation. Use the cream only twice a day unless otherwise advised by a physician. Avoid prolonged use, which can put you at risk for complications, such as skin sensitivity.

Adjust the humidity level in your home. Run a standalone humidifier or install a humidifier on your home's heating system.

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  • Tyler Olson/Hemera/Getty Images

About the Author

Heather Topham Wood is a seasoned writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, Gadgetell, Feel Rich and Step in Style. Heather is a published novelist with six Amazon bestsellers and a contract through Crescent Moon Press. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from TCNJ.