Dry skin? How to treat it on face, body, and hands!

Hi Dr Irwin, I am 26 yrs old. I am a RN and the hospital environment seems to make my skin on my face very dry and rough to the touch. It gets a little red as well. Winter time exacerbates the problem. Any advise for me regarding a skin care regimen? Tired of wasting a lot of money on products that don't work. Appreciate your advice. Jessica

I know what you mean! Indoor environments can sometimes be more harsh than outdoor. Hands are a problem for anyone washing a lot. I think it might be more helpful to go by area when offering you treatment suggestions. Here we go:

Red dry face – what to do:

One of the key culprits on the face is……you guessed it…..skincare products. It’s very possible what you are using to treat the dryness is causing irritation.

  • Pare your skincare regimen down temporarily to two products, a gentle cleanser like something organic, or the drugstore CeraVe or Cetaphil. If it stings or burns, don’t use it.
  • Then moisturize with an organic or gentle moisturizer 4 times a day with that.
  • If the problem isn’t better in 1-2 weeks, you need to see your dermatologist. You could have a low grade infection that needs to be treated. This is especially common in hospital and clinic workers.
  • Skip the sunscreen for this 1-2 week period.
  • Once your skin is feeling normal again, then add products back ONE AT A TIME,  about a week apart. You’ll usually be able to tell which one is irritating you.
  • Try not to touch your face a lot, and wash your hands first.

Dry, rough skin on body – what to do:

  • Water is a problem for some here.  Those long, hot baths and showers may feel good but they dry your skin in the long run. If your skin is normal, they are fine! But, if you are having problems with eczema or dryness, limit them to 5-10 minutes.
  • You gotta lube, lube, lube with whole body moisturizer every single day right after any bath or shower. Body oils can be nice (I use the product and love it)!  Read above and use bland or organic moisturizers.
  • Cleansers matter. Something gentle that doesn’t strip natural oils off your skin is good. Just soap the key areas like armpits and groin. You don’t need soap all over your body.

Dry, cracking hands – what to do:

  • If you have hand eczema, you cannot use any commercial soaps – EVER!! If you want to get rid of this, you need to use your home cleanser that’s not irritating everywhere! This includes at work. Some companies will supply alternative cleansers to employees who request it, or bring your own to work. You can’t use the cleansers in restaurants, movie theaters, office buildings etc. They all contain irritating chemicals.
  •  It’s all about the lube! Moisturize 10-20 times a day if you have eczema. Less if your hand eczema is gone, but still always after washing your hands. Be sure your moisturizer isn’t the problem.
  • Also, contact with acidic foods when you are cooking may be a problem. Try wearing gloves.
  • Wash dishes with gloves on.
  • See your dermatologist if you try the above, and you don’t clear up in 2 weeks. Sometimes infection is causing the skin to not heal.

Hope this helps, Dr I.

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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