The best way to treat dry, itchy skin

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If you're feeling like your skin is uncomfortably itchy and dry lately, you can blame those Santa Ana winds. (KABC)

If you're feeling like your skin is uncomfortably itchy and dry lately, you can blame those Santa Ana winds.

But for people with eczema, like Erica Andrews, the dry, windy weather means cracked and scaly skin on her hands and around her face.

"I usually have to keep applying moisturizer throughout the day if I want it to stay on," Andrews said.

But dermatologist Shirley Chi says that's probably because the products Erica is using are lacking a key ingredient.

"You want to look for something that has ceramides in it," Chi said.

While there are many moisturizing ingredients trending now, Chi said ceramides work because it's a molecule found in your skin.

"A lot of things dry your skin and decrease the number of ceramides," Chi explained. "So you should be looking for creams that have ceramides in them."

Besides looking for ceramides, new research reveals that prebiotics might actually help people with chronic dry skin and eczema. Doctors say prebiotics help probiotics, the good bacteria, flourish.

Chi said, "Prebiotics in moisturizers usually come in the form of thermal spring water. Because spring water has a certain amount of trace elements and minerals that allow good bacteria to grow.

But if you are feeling tight, dry skin, there may be another reason for it. You may be having a reaction to an ingredient in a product you're using.

Chi said almost all products labeled fragrance-free actually have fragrance in them.

"Over 80 percent of them that say they are hypoallergenic contain some kind of allergic substance," Chi said

She suggests switching to a single-source moisturizer such as one that contains coconut oil, shea butter or cocoa butter.

And some experts say, the thicker your moisturizer, the better. A good test of whether or not it's thick enough is to put some on your palm, then turn your hand over. It shouldn't slide off.

Chi also recommends that people with chronically dry skin stick with creams that are oil-based rather than water-based lotions.

A few more tips that may lessen dry itchy skin: Skip long hot showers, and moisturize skin right out of the shower when it's still a little wet. That can help your skin hang onto some of the hydration.
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