Helpful Tips for Dry, Itchy Skin

Tips for Dry Skin

Although I am a pediatric gastroenterologist, which means a “Kids Tummy Doctor”,  many of my patients with chronic diseases suffer from dry, itchy skin.  This, if left untreated, can be painful, make children cranky and frustrated and can lead to excessive scratching.  The excessive scratching worsens the problem and can lead to cuts and possible skin infections.  Patients that suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, Short Gut Syndrome or Small Bowel syndrome, Celiac disease, Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy or other allergic colitis conditions can experience this.  It is a multifactorial problem that can stem from poor nutrition and the bodies immune system reacting to the food allergen or is an additional manifestation of their chronic condition.

It is heartbreaking when I see one of my patients, especially the little babies,  so itchy and scratching their legs together to try to get a bit of relief.  Over the years I have compiled a list of helpful hints that I give to my patients and I have found that used together they work.

  • Avoid soap.  Use a non-soap cleanser such as Cetaphil, Cerave or similar products
  • Try Rubbing, vibration or applying pressure instead of scratching.  A good thing to “scratch” with is an ice cube
  • Drink plenty of water or other clear fluids to keep hydrated.  Remember although milk is nutritious it does not count as a hydrating fluid.
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after a shower or bath and do not rub dry with a towel.  Only use the towel to pat dry and take excess water off.
  • Creams are more effective than lotions
  • Apply moisturizer twice a day.  Good options are Aveeno, Eucerin, Lubriderm, or Aquaphor
  • Use only non-perfumed and unscented bath and personal care products
  • Avoid extremely hot showers and baths
  • Take an oatmeal bath to relieve itching and help with relaxation
  • Try baking soda or unscented bath oils for bathing
  • Apply cold packs, wrapped in a cloth to the skin
  • Whenever possible wear loose fitting clothing made from natural products.  This allows the skin to breathe
  • Protect your skin from the sun – wear sunscreen
  • Don’t forget your lips – wear lipbalm with SPF
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep room temperature at 60-70 degrees and keep air circulating and ventilated

Hope these are useful and provide some relief for those who need it.  Let me know your thoughts and comments below.

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