Whether caused by aging, an underlying condition of the skin or environmental factors, having dry skin can be uncomfortable and itchy. There is a range of treatments available to treat dry skin in the home, but which are the most effective?

Dry skin, also called xerosis, is a skin that lacks moisture in its outer layer. If left untreated, dry skin can crack and become infected. Keeping dry skin hydrated is important, but some treatments purchased in the store can be expensive or ineffective.

This article explores the home remedies for dry skin and analyzes the scientific evidence behind the claims.

Home remedies for dry skin

There are a variety of home remedies a person can use to relieve dry skin. Most of the treatments below can be used as moisturizers unless otherwise stated. The best way to use a moisturizer is to apply it liberally to damp skin after a bath and let it soak in.

1. Sunflower seed oil

A 2013 study found that sunflower seed oil improved hydration when used as a moisturizer on participant’s arms.The same study found that olive oil actually damaged the skin’s barrier, suggesting not all natural oils are suitable for use as moisturizers.

2. Coconut oil

Another natural oil that works well to treat dry skin is coconut oil. A 2014 study found that coconut oil is as safe and effective as petroleum jelly for treating dry skin. It was found to significantly improve skin hydration and increase the number of lipids (fats) on the surface of the skin.As 2016 research explains, coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids that have emollient properties. An emollient is a fat or oil that acts as a moisturizer by filling in gaps in dry skin, making it smooth.

3. Oatmeal bath

Oatmeal is another natural ingredient that can help treat dry skin. Adding powdered oatmeal to a bath or using creams that contain oatmeal may help to relieve dry skin.A 2015 study found that extracts from oatmeal had anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, suggesting it can help treat dry skin.

4. Drinking milk

Milk could also offer relief from dry skin, but not when applied to the skin. Research from 2015suggests that a diet including milk could improve dry skin.The study found that a fat contained in milk, called phospholipid, improved the skin barrier in mice when added to their diet. More research is needed to see if drinking milk has the same effect on skin in humans.

5. Honey

A 2012 review of research notes that some studies have shown honey to be beneficial for many types of skin diseases.Various studies have found honey to be:

  • moisturizing
  • healing
  • anti-inflammatory

These are all qualities that suggest honey is an ideal at home treatment to relieve dry skin. It is completely natural and can be applied directly to the skin.

6. Petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly, otherwise known as mineral oil, has been used as a moisturizer for years.In 2017, researchers found that the skin barrier in older people improved after they used petroleum jelly. This finding supports the use of petroleum jelly to treat dry skin, especially when caused by aging.

7. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel may help provide relief from dry skin, according to a 2003 study.A person with dry skin on their hands or feet can apply aloe vera gel and cover the affected area with a sock or glove. People may prefer to do this before they go to bed and leave the gel on all night.If dry skin is on another area of the body, applying aloe vera gel liberally and allowing it to soak in may achieve a similar effect.

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