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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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5 tips to heal dry, scaly skin

Remedies for scaly skin on your feet to dry skin on your face.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 4 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Woman pushing fingers into forehead to create wrinkles anti-aging
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 4 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

One of the best things about moving from the Midwest to South Florida? The dry, scaly skin that annually cracked my hands by Halloween is a thing of the past. But even in the year-round warmth of paradise, I still start to get dry patches on my skin as soon as the summer ends. That’s why I’m ever so grateful for my wolf pack of Curology dermatology providers and their generous wisdom when it comes to figuring out the best dry skin treatment to counteract environmental triggers.

If you agree that the only acceptable winter flakes are snowflakes, here are 5 quick tips on how to treat and prevent dry skin patches:

1. Don’t take long, hot showers

I know, I know — the first thing I want to do when I get a bone chill is to take a super hot shower or bath. But when it comes to flaky, scaly, or severe dry skin, excessive heat dries skin out even further, which can aggravate your symptoms. Hot water can strip your skin of natural protective oils, compromising the barrier your skin produces to protect your body from the outside world. So do your body (and the environment) a favor: use warm (not hot) water and limit your showers to 10 minutes max.

2. Moisturize immediately after bathing

Layer up on your body butter and facial moisturizer when your skin is still damp (not wet) to give your skin an extra dose of hydration. If your dry skin is dehydrated (i.e., lacking water content), what you want to do is add water back to the skin. While a rich moisturizer with the right formula can do this on its own, sealing water into the skin is one way to help reinforce your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

One thing to note: even though it has a lightly moisturizing base, don’t apply your Curology prescription to wet skin — this can make dry, flaky skin on the face even worse.

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3. Lotion not cutting it? Choose an ointment or cream.

If you have dry, cracked, or flaking skin on your body — especially your hands — don’t rely on your regular old lotion. Pick up an ointment or cream from your local drugstore, which will form a protective barrier while adding moisture back into the skin. Good old 100% petrolatum like Vaseline is popular around the Curology office.

4. Use gentle, unscented skincare products

If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you’re familiar with my thoughts on snake oil and how to avoid it. Although you should always use products that pass the CosDNA test, there are two ingredients you should definitely avoid if you have dry, flaky skin: denatured alcohol and fragrance. Alcohol — especially when it is one of the primary ingredients in a product — dries out the skin, which is the exact opposite of what you want. And because “fragrance” as an ingredient can be made up of all sorts of things, it can cause an allergic reaction. Play it safe by using gentle, fragrance-free skincare products.

5. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier

Dry, flaky skin commonly occurs in winter due to a drop in moisture in the air, and the poor air circulation of certain heating systems can dry you out further. In addition to doing all of the above, running a humidifier in a room where you spend a lot of time — like your bedroom or office — counteracts air dryness by adding moisture back into the air. So while a humidifier on its own won’t treat dry, flaky skin the way a good hydrating product will, it can help prevent it and speed the healing process along.

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When in doubt, custom skincare is what it’s about

When your skin is troubled, Curology’s got your back. As a member of Curology, you’ll gain access to a board-certified dermatology provider who will prescribe you a custom cream to treat skin issues like acne or signs of aging. And when you feel stumped by a skin problem, your dermatology provider can give you a consultation without you ever having to leave your house. The complete Curology set pairs your prescription cream with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer of your choice that won’t clog your pores or dry you out. Sign up for a free trial and get your choice of the complete set or just the custom cream for $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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