This is very common in transplant recipients, effecting as many as 75% of recipients. As you age, your skin gradually becomes drier. There are many other factors that can make dry skin worse including a dry climate, dry winter months, some illness, and various medications. It is not possible to change the natural drying process of our skin, and often exacerbating factors are impossible to avoid, but there are simple rules and daily routines you can follow to prevent and treat the irritating aspects of dry skin.
Dry skin care guidelines:
- Bathe briefly, keep baths or showers to less than 10 minutes in duration.
- Keep bath or shower water lukewarm, not hot. Hot water will dry the skin.
- Limit the soap lather, as this can be drying to the skin. Use a mild super fatted or glycerin soap (warning this can exacerbate acne and folliculitis so care should be taken when using this on skin prone to being dry and developing acne like spots). If you find soap use to be drying, use it only for strategic areas (face, underarms, genital area, hands and feet.)
- Don't rub your skin dry. Instead, pat off excess water with a towel, leaving your skin damp.
- Apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing while your skin is still moist. This will make bathing a moisturizing rather than drying procedure for your skin, as it will "seal" in the moisture from your bath. Apply moisturizer throughout the day as needed.
- Use a sharp blade when shaving, to minimize the drying effects of shaving. Make sure you use a lubricating agent before you start, change blades often and shave in the direction that the hair grows.
Moisturizers are key. The desired consistency of a good moisturizer is thick like that of Vaseline petroleum jelly or a traditional cold cream. A lotion that can be poured out of a bottle, may contain alcohol, and have a long-term drying effect on the skin. Choose a moisturizer that you like and use it regularly.
Dry skin can worsen and become red and itchy, despite proper moisturizing. This is often referred to as dermatitis. This should be evaluated by your physician, and corticosteroid creams may be prescribed for treatment along with moisturizers.
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