If you have a previous history of eczema or dermatitis, there are clear lines of treatment such as using steroid ointments but above all else, it’s absolutely crucial you remember to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise and yes you’ve guessed it, moisturise!
It is possible for people to get dry skin where there’s no history of skin diseases. This may be related to the fact that most people have a shower on a daily basis and use shampoo or a shower gel or both. In chemical terms, these products are ‘detergents’ which means they can dissolve and remove inorganic (e.g sweat) and organic (such as sebum which is the skin’s natural moisturiser) compounds from the skin. Over a period of weeks to months, using these on a daily basis can leave skin very dry. The next stage is that the skin can become inflamed with the release of histamines. These are the compounds which cause the skin to become itchy. As a result of the skin being scratched, it’s easy to enter a vicious itch-scratch-itch cycle.
So how can you prevent this from happening?
When using shampoo, always wash off the foam so that it doesn’t run down over the skin. This will avoid the detergent reacting to the skin.
If the skin feels dry and rough, use a bland moisturiser such as Silcock’s Base or Aqueous Cream (both are available from your local pharmacy without prescription and are relatively cheap) and apply it as if it were a soap. Make sure you apply a thin layer to the skin as applying a thick layer will cause more problems and it’s also wasteful.
Use other agents such as your shower gel sparingly and again wash off the body in the shower.
Give this regimen of treatment a trial of three to four weeks. If symptoms persist, then it may be due to a different problem so the next step would be to consult your GP to clarify what’s happening.