Treating Itchy, Dry Patches

Treating Itchy, Dry Patches

According to a definition created by a German physician in 1660, the itch is, “An unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire to scratch.” Unpleasant? Scientists and sufferers will agree that itching is among the most vexing sensations one can experience. If you have read Dante’s Inferno, you may know that falsifiers (liars) were punished for their sins by, “the burning rage of fierce itching that nothing will relieve,” and describe the sufferers by observing that, “The way their nails scraped down upon the scabs was like a knife scraping off scales from carp.” Not a pretty picture.

French philosopher Montaigne wrote, “Scratching is one of the sweetest gratifications of nature, and as ready at hand as any, but repentance follows too annoyingly close at its heels.” Well put, Montaigne. Though scientists agree that scratching may provide temporary relief from itching, it can often make the return of the sensation worse. If you are battling with dry itchy patches, here are a few skin care remedies that you may find more reliable.

AHA products
Alpha hydroxy acids are Dr. Susan C. Taylor’s top pick for preventing dry skin. “They remove dry, dead, crusty, scaly skin and they trap moisture in your skin.” Adds co-worker Karen S. Harkaway, “In general, the thicker the moisturizer, the better.” Harkaway also advises bathing or showering in lukewarm water. “Use a very mild soap,” she cautions, “If your skin is dry, stay away from strong antibacterial soaps.”

Got milk? Not just for dipping your chocolate chip cookies, milk is also recommended as a remedy for itchy, dry skin. Taylor advises pouring a quart of the cold milk into a basin and soaking a washcloth or strip of gauze in it. Apply the washcloth to your skin for 5 minutes anklet its anti-inflammatory properties work their magic.

The best moisturizers are thick and heavy. According to Diane L. Kalgren, MD, “Watery scented lotions are next to useless for dry skin.” Look for the right products, and more importantly look for the right ingredients.

Woman in bath
Use the Overnight Cure
Dr. Dee Ann Glaser, MD advises overnight treatment. She instructs sufferers to soak in a lukewarm tub, “almost to the point where your fingers shrivel up like prunes. Your skin will be fully hydrated.” Leave the tub and pat yourself with a towel until you are semi-dry and apply a layer of oil. “It doesn’t have to be elegant, expensive oil” Then put on old pajamas (it can get messy) and climb in bed.

Seal Dry Spots with Grease
The driest skin usually crops up on the elbows, heels, and hands. Doctor Glaser recommends slathering some grease on and wearing gloves or socks to bed or a long sleeved pajama top that fits tightly over the elbow. If remedies don’t work or skin becomes worse, see a dermatologist.

If your dry itching skin is condemning you to one of Dante’s levels of hell, we really hope this has helped. Let us know and feel free to share your own ways of coping.

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