How to Treat Dry, Red Flaking Skin

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Dry, red and flaky skin – also called dermatitis -- can result from seasonal temperature changes, an allergy or a medical condition. Home remedies are a beneficial first step in treating irritated skin and may alleviate the problem if your case is mild. Home treatment requires a combination of common sense, proper hygiene and extra attention to problem areas. If your skin condition persists or worsens despite proper home care, however, seek professional medical attention to pinpoint and treat the cause.

Analyze your environment and daily routine to identify potential causes of dry skin. Wind and cool temperatures; low humidity; close proximity to an air conditioner, fireplace or fan heater; hot water; and close contact with chemicals, detergents and solvents can all cause dry, red and flaking skin. Make changes whenever you can, such as protecting your hands from the effects of hot water or chemicals by wearing rubber or plastic gloves.

Take lukewarm to warm showers, rather than a hot bath. Limit each shower to no longer than 10 minutes, once per day, to prevent the loss of natural skin oils.

Replace strong soaps, such as deodorant soap, with milder moisturizing cleansers or soaps for sensitive skin types. Use soap to clean your underarms, groin and genitals, feet and face, but wash with water only on the remaining areas of your body.

Apply moisturizer to damp skin. After showering, use a clean towel to gently pat excess water from your skin, then apply moisturizer to seal any remaining water into your skin.

Purchase moisturizer designed for your skin type and condition. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about appropriate over-the-counter products, then carry a small tube of lotion or moisturizer with you and use it frequently throughout the day. Read ingredient labels to identify products that may contain chemicals that can aggravate rather than resolve your dry skin condition.

Contact your doctor or dermatologist. A severe case of dry, red, and flaking skin may require prescription medication, such as a topical steroid cream.