Don’t let dry patches on your skin interrupt your life. Learn the symptoms, causes, and treatments so you can feel good in your skin again.

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Dry Patches On Skin: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

11/10/20228 min read

No one likes to have dry patches on their skin. They’re uncomfortable. They’re distracting. And they’re sometimes even painful.

Thankfully, once you understand the symptoms and causes of the dry patches on your skin, your treatment options are fairly straightforward. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about dry patches on skin so you can feel good in your skin again.

Table Of Contents

Symptoms Of Dry Patches On Skin

Rough and tight dry patches on skin

1) Roughness Or Tightness

Roughness and tightness are often the first symptoms you’ll notice when you start to have dry patches on your skin.

Your skin may not itch or hurt, but certain spots will feel rougher than normal, and the skin around those areas will feel like it’s being pulled extra tight when you move.

If you develop rough or tight spots on your arms, legs, hands, feet, or torso, try one of the treatments in this article to prevent the dryness from getting worse and turning into a more severe symptom.

2) Scaling Or Peeling

Scaling or peeling occurs when the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, begins to flake off. In the case of dry patches, scaling often develops from a long-term lack of moisture in a certain spot and occurs as a progressive condition after roughness and tightness.

That said, scaling or peeling can also occur at the end of your body’s healing process as a way to get rid of dead and damaged skin. Either way, applying a moisturizer is one of the best ways to treat these problem areas.

3) Itching

Itching is another symptom that usually develops soon after roughness and tightness.

Resisting the urge to scratch itchy skin can be incredibly difficult. But do your best to avoid irritating dry, itchy patches because doing so could lead to even more severe symptoms.

4) Cracking

Left untreated, dry patches on your skin can develop painful cracks that may interfere with your daily activities — not to mention being extremely uncomfortable — and can even become infected.

Cracking is especially common on the ends of fingers and toes because the skin there is thinner, more exposed, and more active than the skin on your upper arms or thighs.

5) Bleeding

In some cases, dry skin patches can become so severe that they may break open and bleed if left untreated.

Unless there’s some underlying condition causing your dry patches, you can usually avoid this symptom by regularly following the treatment options on this list.

Causes Of Dry Patches On Skin

Woman enjoying the sun at the beach

1) Weather

Weather is one of the most common causes of dry patches on skin. Too much sun. Too much cold. Low humidity. Even excessive wind. All of these can dry out your skin and make it itchy and uncomfortable.

Thankfully, weather-related dry skin is also one of the easiest to treat. We’ll discuss some of the best options in the next section.

2) Age

Getting older is hard enough, but it also brings with it more of a tendency to develop dry patches on your skin. As you age, your oil and sweat glands dry up, your epidermis loses elasticity and fat, and your skin becomes thinner.

All of these factors make it harder for your body to maintain the delicate balance in your skin and much easier for dry skin to pop up.

3) Chemicals

Exposure to everyday chemicals is another common cause of dry skin.

Soaps, detergents, household cleaners — all of these contain harsh ingredients that can strip away the protective natural oils in your skin and lead to irritation, roughness, and other dry-skin symptoms.

4) Hot Water

Few things are better than a long, hot shower or a soak in a hot bath after a hard day’s work.

But too much hot water can damage the cells in your epidermis to the point that they can’t lock in moisture like they used to. That lack of moisture can lead to rough, itchy, cracked dry skin.

It won’t happen right away, but if you take too many hot showers or baths too often, you’re bound to develop dry skin eventually. Take shorter showers or baths (10 minutes or less) and set the temperature to lukewarm rather than hot.

5) Hormones

Pregnant woman with dry patches on skin

Changes in hormone levels within your body can lead to dry, itchy skin — especially for pregnant women or those undergoing menopause.

Hormones play a significant role in regulating your body’s natural processes. So, when hormone levels change for whatever reason, you can develop dry skin in places you’ve never had it before.

6) Allergies

Allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust are everywhere and can lead to sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

Those same allergens can also lead to dry skin. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from spring allergies, fall allergies, or year-round allergies, your body may be out of balance because it’s trying to fight off all the stuff in the air.

While airborne allergies are the most common, you might also be suffering from food allergies. You may not know it, but the foods you eat could be causing an allergic reaction in your body that may lead to dry skin.

Common food allergies include:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Try eliminating one or all of those foods from your diet for a week or so, and then add them back in slowly to see how your body reacts.

Finally, we mentioned soaps, detergents, and household cleaners earlier. Those and other common products contain chemical ingredients — like parabens, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, and hydantoin — that may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Treatment Of Dry Patches On Skin

Man moisturizing dry patches on skin

1) Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

One of the best treatments for dry patches on skin is to apply a moisturizer on a regular basis. Moisturizers help soften and smooth dry skin to prevent it from peeling, itching, cracking, and bleeding.

It doesn’t matter if you choose a cream, lotion, ointment, or oil, but pick one that is hypoallergenic or formulated with as many natural ingredients as possible.

To lock in moisture more effectively, apply a cream or balm to slightly damp skin after a lukewarm shower or bath.

Also, remember to moisturize your hands and other uncovered skin throughout the day, especially if you tend to wash your hands frequently or your skin is exposed to the elements.

2) Drink Plenty Of Water

Drinking plenty of water every day plays a big part in keeping dryness away.

If you’re not getting enough water in your diet, your skin won’t be able to repair itself, replenish the moisture in the epidermis, and retain its natural elasticity. This can lead to dry skin.

Try drinking eight cups of water every day for both your skin and your overall health. Try this simple schedule:

  • Drink two cups of water first thing in the morning before you leave for work
  • Drink two cups of water with lunch
  • Drink two cups of water with dinner
  • Fill a large water bottle with at least two cups and sip on it throughout the day

3) Protect Your Skin From The Sun

As environmental factors go, the sun is the biggest cause of dry skin. Granted, you do need some sun exposure every day, but too much can be harmful to your skin.

To prevent overexposure — and the dryness that can result — apply an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen to your face, neck, hands, and other exposed areas before leaving the house and periodically throughout the day.

Wearing protective clothing is also a great way to protect your skin. Here are some suggestions for minimizing sun exposure:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear long sleeves
  • Wear long pants
  • Cover your eyes with sunglasses
  • Wear gloves when working outside

If you are especially susceptible to UV rays, consider limiting your time outside to the mornings and evenings, when the sun is less intense.

4) Use Gentle Products

Woman applying Bodewell Psoriasis Calming Cream at home

Read the label of any products that will come in contact with your skin, and only use those that are gentle enough not to cause dryness.

Even the heavy scent found in some skincare products can cause dryness in your skin. Avoid those harsh scents and the other ingredients that can harm your skin by examining the label and looking for keywords like:

  • Fragrance-free
  • Organic
  • Unscented
  • Dye-free

Products with these key words are usually gentler on your skin and less likely to remove the natural oils that keep your skin balanced.

5) Try Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal works to lock moisture into your skin. This, in turn, allows your skin to rehydrate more efficiently and stay hydrated longer. The increased moisture may also help strengthen your skin's barrier, which can help prevent the negative effects of air pollutants.

Our Eczema Daily Calming Cream contains colloidal oatmeal to help prevent dry patches on skin and improve the appearance of skin over time.

Feel Good In Your Skin Again

Woman treating dry patches on skin

Don’t let dry patches on your skin prevent you from living a full and enjoyable life.

Follow the treatment suggestions in this article, and use high-quality skincare products, like Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream for eczema dry patches, and Psoriasis Soothing Spray for dryness caused by psoriasis to keep your skin soft, supple, and smooth.

You can feel good in your skin again!


Cleveland Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Medical News Today
National Library of Medicine
The University of Tennessee Medical Center

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