There are a couple easy changes you can make in your life to dramatically increase and retain the natural moisture of your skin. I had to find all of this out by years of trial and error. The mistake I was making was that I was looking for an "easy pill" to make my dry skin go away. Each week I tried a different cream or lotion from my pharmacy or local body shop in search of a way to make these eczema patches go away so that I could feel comfortable at work. The weather was very hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter, so in the summer I was forced to wear tee shirts so that everyone could see the eczema, and in both seasons the itch was constantly reminding me that the patches were there. FINALLY I stopped being stubborn and went and had a long talk with my mother and step father about how to heal the problem from its roots. I trust their advice because none of them drink, smoke, drink coffee (although I believe coffee has its benefits, like curing asthma attacks), or do any kind of pills or medicines unless it is a matter of life and death. They are in their mid 50's and still work as owners of a professional cleaning business and do back breaking work (my mom has had 5 kids by the way) every day. They continue to amaze me at how young they look for their age because of their lifestyle.
Any back to the point. Just a disclaimer, I am only sharing my experience. I am not a Doctor nor do I recommend making any changes to your lifestyle without first consulting an MD I am just an average good looking, 24 year old guy who has deal with dry skin his whole life. So, more about what I learned from my conversation with my mother and step father.
It turned out that lifestyle was the keyword. My eczema was a reflection of my inner psychological, emotional, and physical health. In addition to all of that, the environment did not help. It was very hot and humid in the summer, and biting cold in the winter, NOT conducive to the improvement of skin issues.
Here are the activities I stopped doing which dramatically improved my dry skin:
-Taking long hot showers. I know, I know. There is nothing better in the world than taking a hot bath or shower, but if you are skin sensitive or experience eczema, hot showers are your worst nightmare. TRUST ME on this.
That leads me to my next point.
-Top using bath and shower products that contain fragrance. I am not an expert on chemistry, but I highly doubt fragrance and any number of the chemicals they put in widely available products are beneficial for dry skin. I recommend using Dr. Bronner's soaps. I have been using them for years now. It comes in a big bottle and lasts a very very long time. A small amount goes a long way, it is liquid (or in bar form) and contains only natural oils and ingredients. It smells divine, not to mention, and leaves you feeling silky and clean. I also recommend buying some exfoliating gloves (very cheap), and gently exfoliating your entire body maybe once per month. This removes all of the dead skin cells from your body. Use gentle, small circular motions with the gloves in both directions with the Dr. Bronner's soap.
-In addition to not using products with a ton of chemicals and taking long hot showers, you are going to hate me for this, but you need to majorly decrease your sugar and dairy intake. Remember, carbohydrates just turn into sugar. I found that when sweating specifically, my skin was extremely dry and irritated because my body was secreting a lot of milk, sugar, and soda and not enough water and natural sugar. Stop eating white bread and start buying 100% whole grains (it must say that exact phrase) bread, and lay off the chips and twinkies. Instead, start relying on natural sources of sugar like fruits, berries, and the good carbs. I really believe that you are what you eat (and drink) and your skin is really just full of pores that will secure whatever your body is concocting on the inside. So we must do what we can to make sure that concoction is made mostly of water, good high quality carbs, fruits, vegetables (some cooked some raw), nuts, seeds, etc. I know this sounds painful but you must change your lifestyle to cure your skin. This way of eating will always leave you feeling more powerful and ready to take on the day, and will give you more energy, increase your blood flow etc etc which will all help your skin. Your skin's healing will simply be your body's gift to you for feeding it and taking care of it better.
-Stop putting tons of cream and sugar in your coffee. It is much healthier to drink coffee that is closer to black. I use a small amount of brown sugar and some low fat milk. Trust me, I love coffee very much, but you must only drink 1 small cup per day or it will continue to add dryness to your skin. If we attack this issue from many angles you will certainly see results and feel better from day to day. There is no better time than NOW to start taking steps toward living a more vibrant and fulfilling life. We all (well most of us) have money issues, but we are blessed to have grocery stores and markets with all of this wonderful locally grown produce and high quality food. Do yourself a favor, and stop buying things that come in very colorful packages. The packages have to be colorful so you will buy them, fruits and vegetables are very colorful, but you SHOULD buy those! If you are worried about not having time to eat, get a rice cooker with a steam tray and make some rice with a yummy sauce and steam your favorite veggies and make a LOT of it so you are not tempted to open a bag of chips when you get hungry. Personally I love to make brown rice with fresh onions, red peppers, green peppers, garlic, onions, and some fresh salmon. There are many many healthy recipes you can find online that you can make in BULK to help you through the week. It will help your wallet too. Fried foods and stuff are okay once in a blue moon, but you really need to eat them sparingly.
-Stop itching! And do NOT put really hot water on it as a substitute for itching! Duh!
-Use alcohol as sparingly as you would use fried foods. Let's face it, we do not need a Dr. or nutritionist to tell us that these things wreak havoc on our bodies, if you listen to your body, IT WILL TELL YOU! You know what I am talking about! If you have to ask if it is bad, then it probably is and you should do it very sparingly. I have found that telling myself "Absolutely no alcohol" or "Absolutely no junk food" just stresses me out and causes me to have skin problems, so if I use these things very moderately, I can still enjoy them and avoid the consequences of over indulgence.
-Stop laying in the sun all the time! This causes even worse skin problems, if you live in a very hot area, order some natural high SPF sunscreen that has minimal chemicals in it. Personally, I stay out of the sun much of the time, try to stay covered up, and actually sun bathe probably once every 2 weeks for 15 minutes or so. This actually seems to really help my skin. An infrequent blast of sun light really seems to do wonders for me, while I must take action not to burn.
-Be careful with the mass produced products they sell at the "Springfield" CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid etc. Try to look for organic products that do not contain fragrance and other possible irritants. One product that has been pretty good for me is Cetaphil.
-Trying switching to a laundry detergent that is organic and does not contain added fragrance, colorant, and all of the other chemicals that can irritate. There are many options available online and they work just as good as Tide and Clorox. Try to minimize your exposure to harsh chemicals in general. I know we must all do our share of cleaning (even dish soap dries the heck out of my skin).
-I should not have to tell you not to smoke cigarettes. Anything that impairs lung function also impairs heart function, and we with dry skin NEED to have good circulation.
-Try to use all natural lotions without fragrance or chemicals. Greasy products that block pores are also not a good idea (vaseline).
Like I said, I am not a Doctor, just a regular guy who has experienced chronic dry skin and eczema. I made all of the aforementioned changes to my life and now I do not even need to use a topical moisturizer, and I am very happy to say that my eczema patches are gone and I am no longer plagued by embarrassing, dry, scaly, reptilian looking skin!