Troublesome dryness of the skin can occur as the result of daily bathing or showering, especially in older people. The skin, particularly that over the lower legs, feels itchy and appears white, rough, scaly, even cracked, so that it may bleed and become red and infected.

The best way to deal with this common problem, the U.S. Pharmacist (13#12:24) advises, is to first soak the skin in warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes. After this, the skin must be thoroughly dried with a towel and then, and only then, it should be immediately covered with a film of ointment or cream. The soaking gives time for the water to penetrate into the deepest layers of dry skin and the thin layer of ointment or cream then acts as a barrier to prevent the water from evaporating away. However, since water and oil don’t mix, the surface must be completely dried before ointment or cream can be properly applied. Without the soaking, a cream or ointment cannot do much good.

However, because ointments are stickier and less easily washed off, creams are more popular, especially during the day. With creams, though, one must be prepared to soak the skin more often.

Containing still less oil, or even none at all, lotions, although soothing, are almost useless for treating skin that is already excessively dry. They may provide some help, of course, in preventing normal skin from becoming dried out. Gels, which usually contain some alcohol, may actually dry the skin.

Cutis (37:384) recommends that we add Alpha Keri oil to our bath water. Those who preferred showering to sitting in the tub got the same benefit from Alpha Keri oil by rubbing it on the skin immediately after drying. Other bath oils probably have the same effect.


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