Conditions & Treatments

Dry Skin

Dry skin is a very common skin condition, usually characterized by irritated skin and itchiness. Dry skin often worsens in the winter, when the air is cold and dry.

Dry Skin

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a very common skin condition, usually characterized by irritated skin and itchiness. Dry skin often worsens in the winter when the air is cold and dry. In addition, frequent bathing can aggravate dry skin. With no treatment, dry skin may become flaky or scaly.

It is important to note, however, that dry skin symptoms may resemble other skin conditions or result from other disorders. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for dry skin

Treating dry skin may be as simple as keeping the skin moist by taking fewer baths and using ointments or creams that keep the moisture in. Moisturizers should be applied immediately after bathing or showering and reapplied frequently. Treatment may also include:

  • Avoiding harsh soaps, detergents, and perfumes, which tend to dry the skin

  • Avoiding rubbing or scratching the skin, which can aggravate the symptoms and cause infection

  • Applying a salicylic acid solution or cream, which removes the top layer of skin, if the skin is scaly

  • If dry skin is resistant to conservative treatment, your doctor may prescribe a prescription medicine to apply to your skin  

Call your doctor if:

  • There is itching without a visible rash.

  • The itching and dryness are so bad you can't sleep.

  • You have scratched so hard that you have open cuts or sores. 

  • Home remedies have not relieved the dryness and itching. 

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Department of Dermatology

  • The Medical Dermatology Program
    The Medical Dermatology program at Massachusetts General Hospital is a full-service dermatology practice that provides care for all skin, hair and nail conditions.
Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • Midlife Women's Health Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Midlife Women’s Health Center brings together experts from more than 15 specialties to improve, promote and advance health care for women at menopause and beyond through research, collaboration and education.

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