Dry skin can be terribly annoying. Some things seem to make it worse: frequent hand washing, exposure to water or soap, winter weather with wind and dry indoor air, and health conditions like eczema or an underactive thyroid gland. No matter what, you have to wash your hands to stay healthy, but using rubber gloves to do dishes or other cleaning chores may help. Dermatologists also suggest avoiding soap—instead, use a waterless cleanser for hands or a soap-free cleanser such as CeraVe or Cetaphil for the face or body. Using a good moisturizer after gently patting the skin dry is essential. At night, try wearing a relatively greasy moisturizer, such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment or Vaseline Petroleum Jelly—under cotton gloves to protect bedclothes. Some of our other favorite remedies are listed below.
BARNYARD BEAUTY AIDS
My late husband always made sure we had Bag Balm in the house to use for scrapes and cuts. Now our children keep it in their homes, and our granddaughter uses it daily. I first started applying it to some horrible big cracks on my heels. It worked so well that I now use it on my arms, legs, face, and neck. It is better than any other lotion for my dry skin. I mix it with a little cold cream so it goes on more smoothly, and it sure makes a huge difference.
Thanks for sharing your skin care tip with us. Many readers appreciate the moisturizing power of beauty aids like Bag Balm and Udderly Smooth Udder Cream.
I get dry hands every winter. Cracks in my fingertips and knuckles drive me crazy. My nails are rough too, and I am at my wit’s end. I cannot afford costly department store products. Any suggestions?
In winter we frequently recommend “barnyard” beauty aids. Dairy farmers learned long ago that the salves they used to prevent cows’ udders from chapping also worked beautifully for their own hands. The oldest is Bag Balm from the Dairy Association Company (800-232-3610). It is greasy and smelly, though. Udderly Smooth Udder Cream is nicer to use and also provides good moisturizing at a good price (800-345-7339). Listeners will recognize Udder Cream (with urea, for extra moisturizing power) as a longtime underwriter of the People’s Pharmacy radio show.
My skin is so dry and itchy that sometimes I have to stop and scratch it in the middle of a tennis game. This annoys my partner and bothers me more than I can say. What suggestions do you have?
For very dry skin, dermatologists often recommend a heavy-duty moisturizer. Plain petroleum jelly works well and is inexpensive. Aquaphor Healing Ointment is also very effective, though some people find it greasy. The best way to use such products is by applying them after a bath. Blot (don’t rub) excess water off the skin, and then put the moisturizer on. Many people also find “barnyard” moisturizers such as Bag Balm or Udderly Smooth Udder Cream helpful and cost-effective.
Years ago my dermatologist suggested I stop using topical creams and lotions since I am allergic to them all. Twice a day I rub olive oil on my skin instead. On weekends I also use it as a hair conditioner. By sticking with olive oil, I have solved my skin problems. As the doctor said, “If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it’s good enough for you!”
Some people may be allergic to olive oil, but for most people it can often be an effective moisturizer. It may be a little greasy, however. Some women also find that applying olive oil can help reduce vaginal dryness.
I used to have severely dry skin. My hands were always dry and chapped. Then a friend told me to dip my hands in a solution of two-thirds white vinegar and one-third water for one or two minutes and then rinse them off. I keep a spray bottle of that mix in my shower to spray on my feet and hands. My heels are no longer so dry and rough that they tear my hose. I have given this tip to hairdressers who have dry hands because of the chemicals they use.
This is not the first time we have heard that vinegar could help dry skin. There are no scientific studies to support this claim, but this inexpensive remedy may be worth a try. One theory is that vinegar restores balance to dry skin caused by too much hand washing.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic