Woman checking her skin in the bathroom mirror

From the winter weather to genetics, there are so many different factors that can contribute to dry patches on the skin. 

Whatever the cause of yours may be, you likely want to know how to treat these troubled areas, so here are a few methods to try. 

Use a Mild Chemical Exfoliant

When it comes to exfoliating, you have two options – physical or chemical.

Physical exfoliants refer to things like scrubs and brushes, as these require an abrasive surface to be manually rubbed over the skin in order to dislodge any dirt or dead skin cells.

On the other hand, chemical exfoliants work differently…

These contain specific chemicals that dissolve the glue-like substance that holds on to dead skin cells and keeps them on the surface of the skin, allowing the dead skin cells, along with any dirt, to be washed away.

Why is a chemical exfoliant better for dry patches?

Because they are gentler than physical exfoliants. While you may think that they are harsher, since they consist of chemicals, the scrubbing action that physical exfoliants require is actually so much worse for your skin.

So, which chemical exfoliant should you use?

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are your best bet, and will remove any dry patches while exfoliating the rest of your skin. There are a few different types of AHAs out there, with glycolic acid and lactic acid being the most gentle.

If you decide to go with an AHA, try to use one that contains a concentration of between 5% and 10%.

One thing to be wary of…

When people try chemically exfoliating dry patches for the first time, they are often overjoyed at the results, leading them to use their chemical exfoliant more frequently than recommended.

Why is this bad?

Because over-exfoliation will only exacerbate your dry patches in the long run, damaging your skin’s outer layer to a point where it will take much longer to heal.

Keep Dry Patches Protected from the Environment

Everything from the sun’s UV rays to cold winds can really take their toll on your skin. While you should be making an effort to keep all of your skin protected from the environment, this especially applies to any dry patches you may have. 

The more your dry patches are exposed to environment damage, the drier they will become, making them even harder to treat. 

While keeping your skin covered up is easy to do with the body, what do you do if your dry patches are on your face? 

Long winter hats or wide-brimmed summer hats are great for this, as are scarves. 

Stop Using Products that Dry The Skin Out

There are numerous skin care products and ingredients out there that are designed to dry up the skin, and these can be extremely beneficial to those who have oily, acne-prone skin. 

However, for those with dry patches, drying ingredients are the last things you want to be using on your skin. 

Wondering which ingredients are drying? 

There are so many, but here are a few of the most common: 

  • Benzoyl Peroxide – a popular acne treatment, with side effects including dry patches 
  • Denatured Alcohol – damages the skin’s protective barrier, and commonly found in astringents and toners 
  • Fragrances – a blanket term to cover a wide range of different drying chemicals 
  • Retinoids – dryness is a common side effect for the first few weeks, but if you are still experiencing dry patches after this then you likely need to drop down to a lower dose 
  • Salicylic Acid and Willow Bark – great for exfoliating and softening the skin, but dryness is a common side effect

You need to be especially careful when it comes to cleansers, ensuring that the one you use doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural oils. 

Beware Your Showering Habits

Did you know that your showering habits can actually lead to dry patches forming? 

For those of you who enjoy steaming hot showers, this is something that you need to be very careful about. When the hot water runs against your skin, it ends up stripping away the majority of your skin’s natural oils.

Why are these oils so important? 

Because they enable the skin to retain moisture, which is something that your dry patches could really do with. 

Try to shower with lukewarm water instead, making sure to stay under the water for no longer than ten minutes.

Smiling woman directing shower on her shoulder

The body cleansing products that you use should also be formulated for dry skin, and shouldn’t contain any of the drying ingredients mentioned above. 

Once you are out of your shower…

It is important to moisturize your skin, especially any dry patches, while it is still damp. 

Why? 

More on this below…

Use a Thick and Greasy Moisturizer

A moisturizer performs a number of jobs, but the main one is to form a film over the surface of the skin, not only to protect it but also to help prevent moisture from evaporating. 

As mentioned above, applying a moisturizer onto damp dry patches will make a huge difference. This will trap in all of the water that is already present on the surface of your skin, meaning that the only place for it to go is down into your skin, hydrating dry areas. 

But why does your moisturizer need to be thick and greasy? 

Because this means that the protective layer it forms will be thicker, stronger and last for longer. 

If a greasy moisturizer is too heavy for the rest of your skin…

Use this as a spot treatment instead. 

What does this mean? 

Use a lighter moisturizer all over your skin, before dotting the greasier moisturizer onto your dry patches. 

In order to get the most out of your moisturizer, try to find one that contains some of the following healing and hydrating ingredients: 

  • Hyaluronic Acid – a humectant that draws moisture from the air into the skin, immediately hydrating and plumping skin cells up 
  • Urea – also a humectant, urea is known for being able to dramatically soften dry patches
  • Aloe Vera – an extremely gentle healing ingredient that will soothe your skin and calm any itching 
  • Shea Butter – hydrates and conditions the skin, while being packed with vitamins, minerals and fatty acids 
  • Glycerin – another humectant, glycerin softens the skin and helps to keep it moist 

Add Some Moisture Back Into the Air

Unless you live in a humid location, the dry air around you is not going to be doing your dry patches any favors. Instead, it is likely going to be sucking the moisture out of your skin, leaving dry patches drier than ever. 

What can you do about this? 

There isn’t too much you can do outdoors, but you have full control over the humidity within your home. 

This is where humidifiers come in…

Humidifiers work by adding moisture back into the air. This helps to increase the air’s humidity level, meaning that less moisture ends up evaporating out of your skin.

When it comes to choosing a humidifier…

You will have the option between warm mist humidifiers and cool mist humidifiers. 

Which is better? 

They are both equally effective at adding moisture into a room, with the difference being that cool mist humidifiers use cold water, whereas warm mist humidifier contain a heater that heats the water within it up. This makes warm mist humidifiers dangerous to use in homes with children, as the water inside reaches quite a high temperature.

Wondering where to place your humidifier?

This is completely up to you. It would make most sense to either place it in the room in your house in which you spend the most time, or in your bedroom, since night times are when the skin usually dries out. This is because it tends to be busiest at night, which is why an extra dose of moisture at this time can really make a difference to the health of your skin. 

Use A Hydrating Mask

Hydrating face masks can make the world of different to dry patches on the face, with sheet masks being particularly beneficial. 

Why? 

Because these can easily be layered over a hydrating serum, giving you double the amount of benefits. 

Of course, an overnight cream mask can also really help, as this gives the ingredients within the mask some extra time to soak into your skin. 

Whichever type of mask you choose, it is the ingredients that are key…

Try to ensure that your mask contains some of the following: 

  • Vitamin E – heals the skin while strengthening the skin’s protective barrier, helping it to retain moisture 
  • Avocado – packed with essential fatty acids that help to keep the skin moisturized
  • Calendula – calms and soothes the skin while containing a wide range of antioxidants 
  • Jojoba Oil – mimics the skin’s own sebum, enabling the skin to function better 
  • Oatmeal – a common ingredient when it comes to soothing and moisturizing the skin 

Think that all of this talk about masks doesn’t apply to you because your dry patches are on your body, instead of on your face? 

Think again…

Body masks are becoming increasingly popular, and are the perfect remedy for dry patches anywhere on the body. Just like with the face, both sheet masks and cream masks are the ones to look out for, even if you only use these as a spot treatment on your dry patches rather than your entire body. 

Never, Ever Skip Sunscreen

While sunscreen isn’t going to directly treat your dry patches, it will definitely do a lot when it comes to preventing the dryness from getting worse. 

The sun’s UV rays are incredibly dehydrating, and will increase the amount of moisture that evaporates from your skin. Not only that, but UV rays damage your skin’s protective layer, as well as many of its inner components, with one of the results of this being dry patches. 

Infographic on UV rays and protection from UV rays

While SPF 30 is usually recommended when it comes to sunscreen, you may want to opt for something just slightly higher, since your skin is already showing signs of damage. 

Don’t forget…

Check the ingredients label on the sunscreen that you use. Many sunscreens contain ingredients that are quite drying, so a sunscreen that has been formulated for sensitive skin would be much more suitable for you. 

Be Careful with Makeup

Are your dry patches on your face? 

If your answer is yes, you need to be careful with the makeup that you use. 

Why? 

Well, firstly, many makeup products contain drying ingredients, which, as you can imagine, are no good for skin that is already dry. 

What should you be using? 

Try looking for oil-based cosmetic products, as these will help to give your skin some extra moisture and protection. There are many makeup products out there that are created with nourishing ingredients, so take some time to explore the many different cosmetic brands available. 

If you are experiencing extreme dryness on your face…

You would be best off skipping the makeup for a while to give your skin some time to heal. 

Check for Internal Health Issues

If your dry patches appear random and red, and you can’t seem to figure out what has caused them, then they could be a sign of an internal health problem.

Everything from diabetes to thyroid problems can result in dry patches on the skin, and the only way to really find out what’s wrong is by paying a visit to your doctor.

By all means, try some of these methods first, but if your dry patches don’t seem to clear, it could be something more serious.

It is quite common to experience dry patches on the skin, due to the many different factors out there that can cause this. Rather than ignoring these patches when they first appear, make sure that you treat them as soon as you notice them, as this will prevent them from getting worse.