If it’s caused by age, an underlying skin disorder, or environmental factors, it can be awkward and itchy to have dry skin. There are a variety of treatments available at home for the treatment of dry skin, but which are the most effective?
Dry skin is skin that lacks moisture in its outer layer, also known as xerosis. Dry skin will crack and become infected if left untreated. It’s essential to keep dry skin hydrated, but some store-bought treatments can be costly or ineffective.
This article evaluates dry skin home remedies and looks at the scientific evidence behind the claims.
To relieve dry skin, there are a number of home remedies a person may use. Unless otherwise mentioned, most of the treatments below can be used as moisturizers. After a wash, the easiest way to use a moisturizer is to liberally apply it to damp skin and let it soak in.
- Sunflower seed oil
A 2013 study found that when used as a moisturizer on the arms of participants, sunflower seed oil increased hydration.
The same study found that the skin barrier was potentially weakened by olive oil, indicating that not all natural oils are appropriate for use as moisturizers.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil is another natural oil which works well for treating dry skin. A 2014 study found that coconut oil for the treatment of dry skin is as healthy and effective as petroleum jelly. Skin hydration was found to be dramatically improved and the number of lipids (fats) on the skin surface increased.
Coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids that have emollient properties, as research from 2016 explains. A fat or oil that acts as a moisturizer by filling gaps in dry skin, rendering it smooth, is an emollient.
- Oatmeal bath
Another natural ingredient that can help treat dry skin is oatmeal. The addition of powdered oatmeal to a bath or the use of oatmeal-containing creams will help alleviate dry skin.
A research in 2015 found that oatmeal extracts have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, indicating that it can help to treat dry skin.
- Drinking milk
Milk might give relief from dry skin as well, but not when applied to the skin. Research from 2015 indicates that dry skin may be helped by a diet containing milk.
The study found that, when applied to their diet, a fat present in milk called phospholipid strengthened the skin barrier in mice. More research is needed to see if drinking milk has the same impact on human skin.
A 2012 research review states that several studies have shown that honey is helpful for several forms of skin diseases.
Various studies have found honey to be:
These are all features that suggest that honey is an excellent remedy for dry skin relief at home. It is totally normal and can be applied to the skin directly.
- Petroleum jelly
For years, petroleum jelly has been used as a moisturizer, otherwise known as mineral oil.
In 2017, researchers found that after they used petroleum jelly, the skin barrier in older people strengthened. The use of petroleum jelly to treat dry skin, especially when it is caused by aging, is supported by this finding.
- Aloe vera
According to a 2003 report, Aloe vera gel might help provide relief from dry skin.
An individual with dry skin on his or her hands or feet may apply aloe vera gel and use a sock or glove to cover the affected area. Before they go to bed and leave the gel all night, people may prefer to do this.
Applying aloe vera gel liberally and allowing it to soak in can achieve a similar effect if dry skin is on another area of the body.
The routine application of emollients and moisturizers after bathing helps avoid dry skin. Individuals can also reduce dry skin by avoiding activities that can cause dryness or irritation, including:
- scratching their 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 the skin
- frequent contact with detergents
- sitting under direct heat from a heater or fire
- staying outside in windy conditions without covering the skin
When to to seek for advice
An individual may have an underlying skin condition if environmental variables or aging are not the cause of dry skin. If this is the case that a person suspects, then they should talk to a doctor.
An individual may also want to talk to a pharmacist about over-the-counter medications if home remedies and store-bought moisturizers do not ease the symptoms of dry skin.
It is important to keep the skin hydrated and to treat dry skin as quickly as possible. Dry skin, if left untreated, can lead to:
- red patches
- bacterial infection
A bacterial infection can show redness, swelling, or pus. If a person thinks that they have contaminated their skin, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Agero, A. L., & Verallo-Rowell, V. M. (2004, September). A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis [Abstract]. Dermatitis, 15(3), 109-116
- Brooks, J., Cowdell, F., Ersser, S. J., & Gardiner, E. D. (2017, January 12). Skin cleansing and emolliating for older people: A quasi-experimental pilot study [Abstract]. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 12(3)
- Dry skin: Seven home remedies (LINK)
- Danby, S. G., AlEnezi, T., Sultan, A., Lavender, T., Chittock, J., Brown, K., … Cork, M. J. (2012, September 20). Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: Implications for neonatal skin care [Abstract]. Pediatric Dermatology, 30(1), 42-50
- Ediriweera, E. R. H. S. S., & Premarathna, N. Y. S. (2012, April-June). Medicinal and cosmetic uses of bee’s honey – A review. An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, 33(2), 178-182
- Morifuji, M., Oba, C., Ichikawa, S., Ito, K., Kawahata, K., Asami, Y., … Sugawara, T. (2015, June). A novel mechanism for improvement of dry skin by dietary milk phospholipids: Effect on epidermal covalently bound ceramides and skin inflammation in hairless mice [Abstract]. Journal of Dermatological Science, 78(3), 224-231
- Reynertson, K. A., Garay, M., Nebus, J., Chon, S., Kaur, S., Mahmood, K., … Southall, M. D. (2015, January). Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin [Abstract]. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 14(1), 43-48
- Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, S. K., & Gambhir, M. L. (2016, May-June). Moisturizers: The slippery road. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 61(3), 279-287
- West, D. P., & Zhu, Y. F. (2003, February). Evaluation of aloe vera gel gloves in the treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure [Abstract]. American Journal of Infection Control, 31(1), 40-2