Dr.Ken W.N

Options for Dry, Scaly,
Itchy, Cracking Skin

XEROSIS is the excessive drying of the skin with secondary formation of scales and fissures (cracks) with or without inflammation and / or itchiness. What your skin needs most is MOISTURE. Retaining it is the trick!

In the winter, as the outside temperature drops, the air becomes relatively dry. When the indoor humidity drops below 40-50% relative humidity, the air extracts moisture from your skin. The hotter it is inside and the colder it is outside, the drier the indoor air can become.

Monitor the humidity in your home with a HYGROMETER (humidity gauge; try the hardware store) and keep it between 40-50% with the use of COOL vapor humidifiers. Use one in the bedroom during the day and one in the most used area of your home all the time perhaps during the winter, heating season. Keep your home pleasantly warm, but not hot. Weatherproof your home better if needed.

In the winter, a "nice, hot" bath or shower feels really great. Unfortunately, the hot water also washes away the natural oils on and in your skin (just as hot water is best for "cutting grease" when washing dishes). Take a warm (NOT hot) shower or bath.

Bath every other day instead of daily will also help your skin. Bathe long enough to get the job done, but don’t spend extra time “soaking.“ Do NOT additionally soak your feet; your normal bathing is enough.

Another culprit in xerosis is the soap you may be using while bathing. Almost all of the "deodorant" soaps are synthetic detergents which easily wash way your natural skin oils. Even IVORY® is to be avoided (though "natural", it is a caustic soap and IVORY® is VERY drying to the skin).

Use DOVE® soap or CARESS® soap, either scented or unscented. (An alternative would be BASIS® SOAP or Cetaphil®.) Very carefully limit the use of all other soaps to those few spots of your body which may require their special properties.

A time-tested approach for achieving moister skin uses a layer of oil or grease to help retard the loss of water from your skin.

Using oil / grease emolients may or may not be right fore you. Generally, avoid highly perfumed emollients, which might contain irritants. Whether you use an oil-based product (e.g.. mineral, palm, coconut oils) or a grease-based product (e.g.. petrolatum, cocoa butter, lanolin, or BagBalm®) is largely a matter of personal preference. They have the disadvantage of being unpleasantly warm, slippery and tend to soil bed linens, socks, etc.

The best time to apply one of these emollients is after bathing, using a wash cloth and then gently drying the skin. However, the most practical time to apply one of these is just before going to bed each night: KERI® LOTION, EUCERIN® LOTION, or LUBRIDERM®.

A NEWER class of non-greasy products uses the moisture-holding ability of crystals in a lotion or cream vehicle.

"Ammonium lactate" products such as AmLactin® or LacHydrin® not only work very well hydrating (moisturizing) the skin but also encourage the removal of unwanted scales on the skin. These products include LAC-HYDRIN-5® Lotion, OTC (Over-The-Counter, non-Rx), Lac-Hydrin-12% Cream or Lotions by Rx, or AmLactin 12% Cream or Lotion, each OTC (without Rx).

Sensitive, dry skin can also be easily irritated by types of clothing. Wool, permanent-press (formaldehyde -treated) cottons, nylon and other synthetics can all produce primary irritations in sensitive-skinned individuals, let alone people with itchy, dry skin.

Wear skin-gentle fabrics against your skin, such as a layer of silk, soft cotton, flannel or acrylic fabric whenever and wherever it is likely to be irritated. Avoid those materials which are course or otherwise irritating based on your own experiences.

Finally, the more that your skin is exposed to harsh, dry, cold and windy environments, the drier it will become.

Cover up during the dry winter. For the ladies, consider slacks. Consider using long-johns (?or is that “long-janes” for the ladies) during the cold, dry weather.

STILL NEED HELP? Call us and come in to see me! We will do our best to help you control your very dry or scaly skin, improve your skin health and minimize you foot risks.

We look forward to serving you, your family and friends for this and other foot and ankle concerns.

Dr.Ken Sokolowski