Extremely dry skin is itchy and uncomfortable, and it often flakes and peels. Some skin is naturally dry, or a medical condition like eczema or atopic dermatitis can cause this to happen. To moisturize your body and soothe itching, Eczema Net recommends applying an ointment. These products penetrate deeply into your skin to repair damaged barriers and seal in hydration, thereby relieving irritation and keeping your skin supple.
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Ointments consist of an oil-based, occlusive moisturizer or emollient. Some lotions and creams are occlusive as well, but an ointment has a higher concentration of pure oil and is thicker and greasier than other products. Ingredients to look for in an ointment include petroleum jelly or liquid paraffin, both of which create a seal on your skin’s outer layers and help lock in moisture. Because ointments contain oil, they leave a slight residue on your skin that feels greasy.
Moisturize dry skin with an ointment to help it retain water; this cuts down on the cracking and scaling you experience. Ointments repair any damage done to your skin’s outer layers, making it better able to protect itself from environmental aggressors and other factors that aggravate dry skin. These products are particularly effective at treating very dry, flaking skin.
Wash your skin once a day with tepid water and a mild cleanser. Avoid soap-based products and do not rub your skin harshly, which causes it to become irritated. Use your hands to smooth the cleanser over your skin, and then rinse off and pat dry. Apply your ointment right after you bathe to help replenish lost moisture, and reapply it multiple times during the day as needed or as directed by your doctor.
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Choose an ointment that contains lipids, which helps to further relieve dryness and flaking. Look for additional ingredients like urea or propylene glycol, as these allow your skin to hold onto moisture and stay hydrated throughout the day.
If you experience an adverse reaction to an ointment, stop using it and get medical attention. If your dry skin does not improve after you use the ointment for two weeks, consult a dermatologist. Once she talks to you about your concerns, she will help you choose products to relieve your skin.