What triggers dry and itchy skin

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Triggers aren’t the same for everyone. Here are the common ones, and how patients can avoid them: 1

  • Soap and harsh detergents can dry skin out even more – patients can use soap substitutes, and wear cotton gloves when using cleaning products
  • Heating and air conditioning systems can cause more moisture to be drawn out of the skin – patients can try to keep their house at a cool, constant temperature and apply their emollients if they can’t control the temperature (for example, at work or at school) 
  • Animal fur – patients can try to keep pets out of the bedroom, wash any pets bedding regularly and wash their hands after touching them
  • Airborne allergens like pollen – patients can try keeping the house well ventilated; for severe itching, patients can use antihistamines
  • Food – cow’s milk allergy could be a potential trigger in children aged under 3 years of age with atopic dermatitis – patients (especially children) should be advised not to change their diet without working with a healthcare professional
  • Stress may worsen dry and itchy skin conditions – patients should be encouraged to take measures to relax as much as possible, like getting enough sleep and spending time doing activities they enjoy

Avoidance of triggers should be encouraged as an important component of skin condition management.


  1. Boguniewicz M, Nicol N, Kelsay K et al. (2008) Semin Cutan Med Surg. 27(2): 115-127