Can't Get Rid of Dry Skin?
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Dry Skin and Keratosis Pilaris

What is Dry Skin?

Dry skin is common for many and can happen at any age. Depending on your case, assistance from a dermatologist may be needed. Skin gets dry when it loses too much water or oil and typically becomes dryer as we age, in the winter and in low-humidity climates. Dry skin symptoms include:

  • Rough or flaky skin
  • Gray, ashy skin with people of color
  • Itching
  • Cracked skin that can bleed
  • Cracked or chapped lips

Whey dry skin cracks, germs can get in and cause infection. Red, sore spots indicate this. Restoring moisture to the skin can help keep it less itchy and less likely to crack.

Other Skin Issues Caused by Dry Skin

With some, extremely dry skin can cause other skin problems.

  • Dermatitis causes inflammation of the skin accompanied with dryness, itchiness or rash. For dermatitis, a corticosteroid or an immune modulator may be prescribed by your dermatologist. Regular moisturizer use can also help relieve symptoms. 
  • Keratosis pilaris causes small, flesh-colored or red bumps that make skin rough. Also known as “chicken skin,” this usually occurs from overly dry skin. It’s most common with children and teens, and appears on the upper arms, thighs and sometimes cheeks. 

Treating Dry Skin and Keratosis Pilaris


Keratosis pilaris is harmless, but you may want to seek treatment for itchiness and the appearance of bumps. Moisturizers can help with dryness and itch, specifically products with urea or lactic acid. To clear the bumps, a mild chemical exfoliant, either over-the-counter or prescribed, can help remove dead skin and the bumps. Topical retinoids may also help. Treatment often must be repeated to prevent flare ups. Although by adulthood, for many, sometimes keratosis pilaris goes away.

At-Home Tips to Care For Dry Skin

  • Rinse and bathe with warm water. Hot water removes natural skin oils more quickly. Warm water and quick showers (less than 10 minutes) are best.
  • Take care of your face. Cleanse it just once a day, preferably at night. Rinse it with cool water in the morning.
  • Use a mild soap. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap or cleanser that moisturizes. Avoid deodorant bars, exfoliating products and products with alcohol.
  • Shave after bathing. This is an ideal time to shave when hairs are soft. Use a gel or cream, and if possible, keep it on your skin for at least three minutes before shaving. Shave in the direction that the hair grows. Switch out blades after five to seven shaves to reduce irritation.
  • Moisturize after washing. After showering or bathing, apply an ointment or cream within three minutes of drying off, while the skin is still moist.
  • Use a humidifier. These will help keep the air in your home moist.
  • Use lip balm. Use a lip balm with petrolatum (petroleum jelly or mineral oil) before going to bed.
  • Keep your skin protected in the winter. In cold weather, cover your neck and face with a scarf and wear gloves on your hands. 

 

Oral and Topical Medications

Dermatologists are experts in bacterial, viral and fungal infections in the skin and have a deep knowledge of how to best use antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications. Learn More

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