Health & Wellness

Dry, Itchy Skin Relief: 7 Home Remedies for Dry Skin

Winter is filled with fun times and happy memories, but it also delivers cold, dry air that’s the perfect background for dry itchy skin. But you may be surprised to learn that the winter air isn’t the only reason you’re searching for dry itchy skin relief. Your skin is your largest organ—so it’s often one of the first body parts to “sound the alarm” when something isn’t quite right.

So, if you’re struggling with this problem, look no further. In this article, we’ll review the reasons behind your dry itchy skin, my top natural remedies for this irritating condition, and even the one product you should never use for dry skin—even if it’s marketed that way! Read on to learn all you need to know about dry itchy skin relief.

 

Dry Itchy Skin Relief: What’s Standing in Your Way

As I stated above, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and one of the most telling as well. When you see something happening with your skin—whether it’s dry, itchy, or an outbreak of a rash or even acne—think of it as a sign of what’s happening inside your body. Any skin reaction is simply the state of what’s happening inside coming out.

Now, I understand that you may be skeptical hearing this information, but consider this: Your skin is the largest detoxification organ in your body. Its primary jobs are to keep your body safe and covered from invading toxins while also expelling any toxins inside your body. It’s truly a window into the current state of your health and wellbeing—and a very metabolically active organ!

Factors Affecting Your Dry Itchy Skin

When you’re assessing why you have dry itchy skin, consider your overall nutrition—including your diet and water intake.

1. Your water intake

In terms of water intake, if your skin is itchy and dry, your body is likely not getting the hydration it needs—either by lack of drinking water, nutrient deficiencies affecting your skin, or possibly due to an overload of toxins in your body. I would argue that one of the major factors contributing to your dry itchy skin is likely a lack of water intake (or dehydration), and scientists agree.

A 2015 study conducted on 49 healthy female adults revealed that those who consumed more water experienced significant improvement in both superficial and deep skin hydration. [1] In the study, those who increased their water intake drank about an extra 68 ounces each day.

I typically recommend that you drink half your weight in ounces, so someone weighing 170 pounds would drink approximately 85 ounces of water daily. If you’re suffering from dry itchy skin, make sure you’re at least drinking this recommended amount—and perhaps a little more. It’ll also help to eat healthy plants, nuts, and seeds.  Not only will it help keep your body—and skin—hydrated, but it will also help your body to more easily eliminate toxins that may be causing your dry itchy skin. I know this from personal experience.

I was notorious for not drinking enough water in my younger adulthood. In the last couple years, I have been a stickler about getting at least my minimum requirement, if not more. Now I can say with confidence that my skin is healthier than it has ever been in my life. I also notice that I have better energy, improved digestion, less achiness, and an overall better mood. The lesson here? Drink up!

2. Your diet

Did you know that dry skin is actually one of the major indicators for nutrient deficiencies? In fact, in order for your skin to be truly healthy, it must contain high amounts of vitamin C, which does everything from providing UV protection to stimulating collagen synthesis (necessary for elasticity and youthful-looking skin). [2] And perhaps even more importantly, scientists have also found the fatty acid deficiencies may cause dry skin. [3]

Here’s why: Your skin is made up of two main layers—the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis contains pigments and serves as a barrier to external toxins. The dermis is mostly collagen and elastin and provides nutritional support to the epidermis. One of the primary components of the epidermis is fat—and in particular, essential fatty acids.

If you aren’t eating and absorbing these healthy fats, it significantly impacts the health of your skin. It results in less water being absorbed into your skin, making it less “plump” and causing dry flaking and itching. Essential fatty acids also can assist with healing your skin, fighting inflammation, and slowing the aging process. They also offer a host of other benefits for your cardiovascular and immune systems. So, skip that low-fat diet and incorporate more essential fatty acids into your diet.

Furthermore, eating a diet too high in sugar has also been found to contribute to dry itchy skin as well as other skin conditions. In fact, a 2017 study following 64 adults revealed that those who consumed more sugar, and therefore had higher insulin levels, experienced more acne. [4] This is further proof not only that your diet directly impacts the health of your skin, but also that your skin is truly a window into what’s happening inside your body. As a result, adapting your diet and water intake to better support your internal health will go a long with providing dry itchy skin relief.

 

7 Home Remedies for Dry Itchy Skin Relief

In addition to supporting your skin health from the inside-out, here are a few specific remedies you can use for dry itchy skin relief.

1. Shea butter

A 2016 study revealed just how powerful shea butter can be in providing dry itchy skin relief. In the study, 25 adults used a moisturizer containing shea butter three times daily for two weeks. After the two-week period, the researchers found that the participants experienced a 79 percent reduction in itching and their skin hydration increased by an amazing 44 percent! Other eczema-related benefits were noted as well, such as improvement in irritation, roughness, overall appearance, and more. [5] Personally, I prefer to use 100 percent natural shea butter for maximum benefits.

2. Coconut oil

I think we can all agree that coconut oil has been having a “moment” for quite some time now—and with good reason. Not only is it a great fat source that you can consume to support your overall health, but it’s also a fantastic option for topical use to fight dry itchy skin. In fact, researchers conducted a study to test the effects of using coconut oil topically and found that those who used this oil on their legs twice daily for two weeks experienced significantly increased levels of skin hydration. [6]

When purchasing coconut oil, make sure to get unrefined virgin coconut oil for the purest form.

3. Other natural oils (almond, jojoba, olive, etc.)

Many other natural oils such as olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and more provide what’s known as a barrier function—helping to retain moisture to prevent essential waters from evaporating your skin. As such, numerous studies have found that these oils are also beneficial in providing dry itchy skin relief while helping to protect your skin [7]

4. Avocado

Because avocados are a great source of fats and vitamins, they’re also a great natural remedy for dry itchy skin. Specifically, they contain vitamin E, which actually helps to protect your skin from oxidative damage. Interestingly, in a study of over 700 women, researchers found that eating a diet higher in the fats found in avocados resulted in greater skin elasticity. [8]

Personally, I eat avocados every day solely for their essential fatty acids and overall health benefits. But I also live in a dry climate, so I enjoy this side benefit. You may also choose to use the avocado or avocado oil topically, if you’d like. Trust me, there’s nothing like a fresh avocado mask to spook your family members.

5. Oatmeal 

Oatmeal has long been used for skin problems—from dry skin to eczema to even relieving the itch associated with chicken pox. But did you know that oatmeal is so effective due to its anti-inflammatory properties? A 2015 study followed 29 women who experienced itchy dry skin on their lower legs. The women applied a lotion containing oatmeal and researchers noted the oatmeal’s anti-inflammatory effects along with significant improvements in skin dryness, scaling, roughness, and itchiness. [9]

For best results, I recommend finding an all-natural colloidal oatmeal lotion, which is similar to what was used the study. You can also homemade oatmeal directly to your skin. I like to hold it together with some manuka honey, which has its own health benefits as you’ll see immediately below.

6. Manuka Honey

You may be surprised to learn that honey is a natural exfoliator, so it will help to remove the dry skin causing you concern. But manuka honey also actually contains anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties, making it a great option when you’re searching for dry itchy skin remedies. Even more amazingly, a 2017 study revealed that manuka honey significantly improved eczema symptoms when applied topically each night for a week. [10]

7. Aloe Vera

Finally, aloe vera has long been associated with wound healing. But did you know that it can also provide dry itchy skin relief? In a study on 30 women with dry hands, researchers applied gloves containing aloe vera to the participants’ hands and noticed improvements in as little as 3.5 days. The improvements included improved skin integrity, decreased appearance of fine wrinkles, and increased moisture. [11] You can find aloe vera in your local health food store and use it as needed.

 

Dry itchy skin relief - Dr. Pingel

 

Finally, a note on what not to use: mineral oil. Watch out for lotions and/or creams that contain mineral oil—even when they’re marketed for use on dry skin. Mineral oil simply holds moisture into your skin; it doesn’t actually infuse nutrients into your skin, such as with the other remedies listed above. There’s also some debate on its purity/toxicity and whether or not it can clog pores. So, to be safe, I recommend to stay away from this commonly-used product. You’ll be far better served using any of the dry itchy skin remedies listed above, which all support your efforts to heal from the inside-out!

 

Key Takeaways

  • When you see something happening with your skin, it’s a sign of what’s happening inside your body.
  • If you’re experiencing dry itchy skin, consider increasing your water intake and/or adapting your diet to include more nutrients.
  • For dry itchy skin relief, try some of my top natural remedies, including shea butter, coconut oil, avocado, and more.

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