How to Heal Rough, Flaky Skin

Scratching dry skin can lead to further flaking and irritation.

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Rough, flaky skin is typically the result of dry skin. Dry skin occurs when moisture is lost, which causes the skin to become irritated, leading to peeling and cracking. It is most common on the hands, arms, lower legs, abdomen and thighs. Itchy skin results in increased scratching, which causes further skin irritation and flaking. Taking good care of your skin by adhering to a personal hygiene program can help prevent or improve symptoms of dry skin.

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Apply skin moisturizer to dry, rough skin daily. A moisturizer works to restore moisture to the skin, reducing inflammation and preventing further cracks and peels. Apply moisturizer directly after showering, bathing and washing your hands while your skin is still wet for increased absorption. Look for a product that is specifically designed for dry, sensitive skin to best suit your needs.


Use a mild cleanser and soap for cleaning skin. Many skin care products marketed today contain various ingredients and chemicals that may be harmful to the skin or strip away its natural oils. Medline Plus suggests using gentler cleansers that are easier on the skin.


Use warm water. Bathing and washing your face, hands, feet and body in warm water is gentler on the skin than extreme temperatures, such as hot or cold. Hot water tends to dry the skin out quickly and can lead to redness, inflammation or potential burns if not monitored. Keep bathing times to a minimum to avoid excessive drying of the skin and avoid multiple showers during the day.


Apply an over-the-counter cream or lotion to heal rough, flaky skin. Many hand creams are made with cortisone, which helps to control itching and scratching that leads to rough, peeling skin. Creams vary in their strength -- mild, moderate and severe -- and may be used on a daily basis during flare-ups or as a preventative measure. Speak with a pharmacist and/or health care professional to determine your individual needs.

Tips & Warnings

Consult with a health care professional or dermatologist if a skin condition worsens.

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ReferencesMedline Plus: Dry SkinAsk Dr.Sears: EczemaPhoto Credit Hemera Technologies/ ImagesRead Next:

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