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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Helping Dry Skin

Try moisturizing the skin well first.

If there is continued itching or flaking (pruritus), you may have eczema. Eczema refers to several conditions that share a pattern of changes in the surface of the skin. Eczema first appears as an episode of itching, redness and tiny bumps or blisters. When it develops into a long-term condition (chronic eczema), it leads to skin thickening, scaling, flaking, dryness and color changes.

If you have eczema and your skin is sensitive and itchy, avoid using soaps and moisturizers that are scented. Also, using a very emollient but non-irritating moisturizer such as hydrated petrolatum (Hydro latum) is beneficial.

To relieve dry, itchy skin, try an over-the-counter topical steroid, such as one percent hydrocortisone cream or ointment. If the skin continues to be itchy, red or scaly after two weeks of use, consult your doctor.

Your doctor will review your skin-care routine and might prescribe a stronger corticosteroid ointment or cream for you to use on the affected area. To relieve itching, your doctor also may prescribe an antihistamine to take by mouth.

Hot baths and showers can wash away your skin's protective sebum, leaving your skin dry and irritated. Scrubbing rather than gently massaging your skin surface can be very drying, especially if you use harsh soaps.

Do you frequently

  • take long, hot baths or showers, or

  • scrub your skin surface with harsh soaps?

Yes, one or both of these apply to me.

No, I don't do either.

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