Whether you’re a regular sufferer of atopic dermatitis, or your skin just occasionally breaks out in dry, uncomfortable patches for reasons known or unknown, here are five ways to reduce the frustrating feeling of itchy skin.
The word of the day: washing.
1. In the shower: warm, not hot, water
Dry, itchy skin can instantly be aggravated by extreme temperatures, so keep your shower quick and warm. Why? Because not only does hot water remove the natural oils that lubricate the skin (thereby drying it out), but it also increases blood circulation to the skin’s surface, causing redness and potentially increasing inflammation.
The same principle also goes for your home heating: if the radiators are turned up full blast, your skin risks being further irritated. Turn it down, and put on a sweater!
2. Washing your body: gentle, non-irritant products
That fruit-scented and high-lathering shower gel might smell delicious, but the perfume and soap can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to itchy skin. Switch to a fragrance-, alcohol- and soap-free body cleanser that feels just as nice on the skin and doesn’t leave it stinging.
3. Cleansing: the right techniques
Many people find they suffer from breakouts of dry patches on their face: in particular around the eyes (a common sign of eczema) or on the cheeks (a symptom of dry skin.) When you cleanse your face therefore, use a tailored cream cleanser, and apply in gentle circular motions with your fingertips to remove the dirt without aggravating the skin.
4. After washing: moisturise correctly
Lock in the moisture from your (warm) bath or shower by moisturising immediately after. For itchy, dry skin, an emollient-based moisturizer will help repair the skin’s fragile surface and prevent the loss of water that can then lead to flaky skin.
5. Laundry: the right product on the right fabrics
Preventing itchiness isn’t just limited to how and what you use to wash your skin, it’s also about how you wash your clothes. Some detergents can aggravate sensitive, dry skin due to the high number of allergens. Choose your detergent carefully, and opt for one that’s specifically for sensitive skin.
A tip to wear home: the clothes you wear can also affect the quality of your skin. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon contain tiny plastic fibers that can scratch the surface of your skin and cause inflammation. Likewise, coarse natural fabrics like wool and hemp, and even cashmere can cause irritation. Light, breathable materials like cotton or natural silk are your best bet for soothing itchy skin.