The most common reason for itching occurs when your skin’s protective outer layer, the stratum corneum, gets parched. Ceramides, special lipids that act as a barrier to your skin (both by keeping hydration in and foreign materials out), are likely in short supply. Scratching may provide immediate gratification, but it can wreak havoc on your skin’s already-compromised surface layer. “Your skin can form cracks and openings, which in turn can lead to infection,” says Sylvia Hsu, MD, chair of dermatology at Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia. What’s more, harsh ingredients from detergents or beauty products could seep in and potentially make you allergic to formulations that you weren’t initially allergic to.
Itch fix: Keep showers warm but not hot and seal up hydration in your skin by applying a moisturizing ointment or cream when your skin is still slightly damp. Here’s what else you should do if you have dry skin.