There are many causes of dry skin from ageing to skin conditions. But whatever the reasons for it, dry skin can be itchy and uncomfortable.
When skin lacks moisture in the outer layers, it can become cracked and infected. Keeping skin moisturised is very important but store-bought treatments may be too expensive or filled with chemicals – or maybe
Dry skin, also called xerosis, is skin that lacks moisture in its outer layer. If left untreated, dry skin can crack and become infected. Keeping dry skin moisturized is important, but some store-bought treatments can be expensive or ineffective. Or maybe you just prefer a more homey, natural approach.
Fortunately, there are numerous home remedies for treating dry skin. But which of them actually work? In this article, we’ll explore a range of home remedies for treating dry skin and look at the evidence for each one.
1. Sunflower seed oil
In 2013, a study found that oil drawn from sunflower seeds can improve skin hydration. However, the same study found that olive oil could actually damage the skin’s moisture barrier.
So, don’t just assume all natural oils are healthful for your skin!
2. Coconut oil
Coconut oil also works wonders to help with dry skin. A study carried out in 2014 showed coconut was a safe and effective way to treat dry skin, significantly improving hydration and boosting the amount of healthy fat in the surface of the skin.
Another study in 2016 showed how the fatty acids in coconut oil emolliate the skin, filling in gaps in dry skin to make it smooth and keep it moisturised.
3. Oatmeal baths
Oatmeal can also work wonders for your skin. To get the benefits for your whole body, pour powdered oatmeal into a hot bath and let yourself soak.
According to a study from 2015, oatmeal is packed with antioxidants, which are great for your skin, and also has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe dry or itchy skin.
4. Drinking More milk
Milk baths are quite popular to soothe and heal skin but researchers say you’ll get more benefit by drinking milk instead. A 2015 study indicated improved skin with diets that included whole cow’s milk compared to those that didn’t.
Researchers found that the phospholipids – a type of healthy fat – contained in milk improved skin health for mice. This is yet to be tested with humans but there’s a good chance it works with us too.
Multiple studies have found honey to be beneficial for a range of skin diseases and issues. In fact, as you’ll see below, honey has properties that make it ideal for treating dry skin:
Different studies have found honey to be helpful for:
- Moisturising skin
- Healing damaged skin
- Reducing inflammation
These qualities make honey an ideal home treatment for dry skin. Honey is completely natural and you can apply it directly to your skin, except in the rare case of allergies.
6. Petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is an effective treatment for dry skin, especially when the issue is caused by ageing.
Research from 2017 found that applying petroleum jelly improved the skin barrier, allowing it to retain more moisture. The effect was increased for older participants.
7. Aloe vera
Aloe vera gel has long been a popular natural remedy for everything from dry skin to burns. A 2003 study backed these effects up, showing that aloe vera can definitely provide relief from dry skin.
If you have dry skin on your hands or feet, try applying aloe vera gel to the affected area and then put on a sock or glove. You can do this before bed and leave the gel on all night for maximum effect.
If dry skin is on another area of the body, applying aloe vera gel liberally and allowing it to soak in may achieve a similar effect.
Prevention is the best cure
There are many things you can do to make dry skin less likely. Moisturising regularly after washing may help to prevent dry skin. Applying emollients and moisturizers regularly after bathing can also help.
It’s also important to avoid behaviours that may trigger or exacerbate the problem, such as:
- Scratching your skin
- Excessive air conditioning
- Shaving using a blunt razor or without shaving gel
- Bathing or showering too often
- Rubbing skin too hard when towel drying
- Bathing or showering in water that is too hot
- Using lotions that contain alcohol
- Wearing clothes that rub your skin
- Frequent contact with detergents
- Sitting under direct heat from a heater or fire
- Staying outside in windy conditions without covering your skin
Of course, there may be medical, genetic, or hormonal reasons that are outside your control – but even in those cases, following the steps above will minimise the problem or stop it getting worse.
Should you see a doctor about dry skin?
If you can’t work out what is causing your dry skin and can’t seem to keep it in check, you may have an underlying skin condition. If you think that might be the case, it’s worth seeing your doctor to check. It may turn out that home remedies are not enough and your doctor can help you determine the best treatment.
Whatever you do, don’t let dry skin go untreated. If left to get worse, dry skin can lead to:
- Red patches
- Bacterial infection
If you notice redness, swelling, or pus, that may indicate a bacterial infections. If you think your skin has become infected, see your doctor as soon as possible.