Dry Skin

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2014-01-05 (EDT)

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Dry Skin
Causes Dehydration, [Nutrition
See Also Dermatology / Skin Conditions, Dehydration, Vitamin A Deficiency, Vitamin D Deficiency, Deficiency of Fats and Oils, Eczema, Menopause
Books Books on Skin Diseases
Articles Articles on Dermatology / Skin Conditions

Dry skin is a common skin condition associated with many conditions. Skin that is dry is more likely to crack and to be itching. When scratched it is more prone to bleeding. The areas of the skin most commonly affected include the lower legs, arms, sides of the abdomen, and thighs. It can occur at any age, but more commonly increases with age.

Naturopathic Assessment

The assessment of dry skin is primarily based on observation of the skin.

Causal Factors

Dry skin can be caused by irritants that are drying when applied to the skin or, and more likely, when the internal body is dehydrated. Identifying the causal factors for dry skin involves assessing both what is used topically and overall state of health.

Blog Avoiding Dry Skin this Winter [1]


  • Foods that are dehydrating, such as caffeine, sugar, dried fruit etc. can cause or aggravate dry skin.
  • Spicy and hot foods can increase internal heat and add to an overall sense of dehydration.
  • Bathing or hand washing too frequently, especially if using soaps that contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals.


  • Seasons:
  • Skin tends to be more dry in the winter as the cold air outside and the heated air inside cause low humidity.


  • Home Environment
  • Forced-air furnaces can worsen dry skin.

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications:
  • Certain medications such as choline inhibitors increase dryness.


  • Individuals that have a tendency not to sweat are more prone to dry skin.
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Common Questions

When assessing dry skin your naturopathic doctor will examine your skin and inquire about the following:

  • When did your dry skin develop?
  • Is it acute or chronic?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • What are your hygiene habits?
  • What other symptoms are associated with the dry skin?
  • What impact does it have to your health and activities of daily living?
  • What are your other health concerns?


The common symptoms of dry skin include:

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Dry skin is considered a chronic disease that is typically due to internal factors.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:


  • Keep baths and showers short. Reduce the frequency of bathing. Use warm (not hot) water. When having baths add alkaline salts to the water. Pat your skin dry, avoid rubbing the skin too much.
  • Use as little soap as possible. Limit its use to face, armpits, and genitals as much as possible.
  • Use a humidifier if the skin is also dry.
  • Apply cool compresses to dry itchy areas.

Personal Care Products

  • Ensure that all personal care products, household products and cleaning products are free of irritating chemicals.
  • Apply natural, chemical free body oils, creams or lotions when the skin is still damp to increase their absorption.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Dietary recommendations
  • Modify the diet to eliminate or reduce foods that are dehydrating, including caffeine, sugar, pop, dried fruit.
  • Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in the diet. Any fruit or vegetables that grow on a vine, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, melons etc, have a higher water content and are more hydrating to the body.
  • Identify and elimiate food allergies or intolerances.
  • In colder months, or if the dry skin is severe, eliminate cold and raw food as they add to the problem.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Exercise
  • Exercise is beneficial in improving blood flow to the skin. Although exercise is often beneficial in decreasing the severity of dryness and itchiness, it may also aggravate indicating more of an internal condition which needs to be addressed.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for dry skin include:


Typically dry skin is a benign symptoms, yet there are times when it is necessary to seek immediate naturopathic medical care such as:

  • If you feel itchy without a visible rash.
  • If the dryness or itchiness are preventing you from sleeping.
  • You have open sores or cuts due to scratching.
  • Your dryness does not appear to be getting.


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [2]

  1. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser 2010 Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
  2. Boon Heather, Smith Michael 2004 The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Robert Rose, Toronto
  3. Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  4. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing