Choose a fragrance-free hypo-allergeneic moisturizing cream or ointment.

Choose a fragrance-free hypo-allergeneic moisturizing cream or ointment.

It’s amazing what havoc a simple change of the weather can wreak. As our days and nights in the Northeast have gotten drier and cooler, I’ve noticed that my skin is needing more moisturizer to stay supple and comfortable. More of my patients are also coming back with flares of their eczema. Accompanying the eczema is dry skin.

So what is one key step to battling eczema and dry skin? Moisturizing! By moisturizing, we put the hydration back into the skin. Some of us have a genetic predisposition to getting dry skin. Others of us have occupations which may lead to frequent washing and dry skin. And for all of us, the inevitability of time and age also leads to a decreased ability to keep our skin supple.

So what is the proper way to moisturize? And how do you choose a moisturizer?

Well, if you are coming out of a bath or if you just washed your hands, then you want to pat dry instead of rubbing dry. Immediately put on a fragrance-free hypo-allergenic moisturizing cream or ointment. Creams tend to be thick and white while ointments tend to be greasier like Vaseline ointment. Lotions tend to be watery and could actually lead to more drying of the skin. Slather on your moisturizing cream liberally.

Throughout the day, you can re-apply your moisturizer as needed.

For those hard to reach areas, you may need someone to help you apply your moisturizer or get a moisturizer applicator.

What is your favorite moisturizer?

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6 Responses to Moisturize moisturize moisturize!

  1. Randy says:

    Dr. Huang, can you please explain the mechanism by which “Lotions tend to be watery and could actually lead to more drying of the skin?” Thanks!

    • Susan Huang MD says:

      The water content increases as one goes from ointment to cream to lotion. That might seem good, but actually if there’s a lot of water content, that water can evaporate if it has nothing to “seal” in the moisture. The ointments and creams tend to have more ingredients like lipids that help seal in the moisture. Hope that helps! (Also see the answer to neko-womyn’s question)

  2. Cassandra says:

    It used to be impruv, but it makes my skin itch since it was purchased by GSK. Perhaps they’re sourcing their ingredients elsewhere but it’s not the same. Why does this happen?

  3. neko-womyn says:

    Do you really have to put on lotion after a shower or bath? I hate that because it feels cold and my skin is sensitive to temperature after a washing. Can you explain how lotion could actually dry out your skin and how to avoid that?

    • Susan Huang MD says:

      Couple tips to avoid the cold moisturizer:
      - try a “lotion heater.” There are several that you can purchase online or from beauty stores.
      - warm up your moisturizer in your hand for a minute before applying to the rest of your body.

      On the second question, using a watery lotion can leave your skin still feeling dry. That’s because the water evaporates quickly while it’s on the skin, and it doesn’t have any “sealants” to trap the moisture in your skin. Dermatologists often talk about “soak and seal” technique. e.g. after bathing or showering or washing, the skin is moist from the water, but then you have to seal in the moisture with an effective moisturizing cream or ointment. Hope this helps!

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