Dry Skin Tips: Causes & Treatments – The Eucerin guide to managing dry skin

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Welcome to the Eucerin Dry skin Guide. Here, you will find out all about dry skin – what are the causes of dry skin all over body, from face to arms to feet, what the dry skin symptoms are and what is the best skin care routine for dry skin.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin is caused by both external and internal factors. The first step in the moisture loss process is the loss of surface lipids that form a natural barrier on the skin to prevent water evaporation. Once this lipid barrier is broken, moisture can evaporate and the vital moisture-binding substances are easily washed out.

Illustration of dry skin
There are several internal and external factors that cause dry facial skin, all of which contribute to the same skin dehydration process.
Close-up from dry skin
Hands tend to become dry as they are washed frequently.

Environmental factors

  • Harsh weather conditions - hot, cold and dry air.
  • Seasonal changes - symptoms of dry skin often worsen during either the winter or summer.
  • Sun exposure: Excessive sun exposure can also contribute to skin dryness.

Inappropriate skin care routine

  • Frequent washing, or long, hot baths or showers, removes the lipids that make up the skin barrier.
  • It is important to follow a routine, and use products that are suitable for dry skin. It is especially important not to use strong soaps that strip away natural skin lipids.

Dry skin related to certain diseases
Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis are also linked to dryness and can show other symptoms like inflammation and intensive itchiness. They tend to be genetically linked. Metabolic conditions such as diabetes mellitus and kidney diseases can also have an influence on skin moisture.

Certain medications and medical treatments (as radiation therapy, dialysis or chemotherapy) are known to cause dry skin as a side effect. Medications that control blood pressure, known as diuretics, are known to have this side effect.

Skin hydration is dependent on the body’s water balance. This further deprives already dry skin of moisture. Drinking the minimum of 1.5 litres of fluids daily is essential for maintaining a healthy skin condition.

Nicotine and toxins from cigarette smoke may decrease blood flow significantly, resulting in a decreased metabolic rate within the skin. This means the skin dries out more easily and ages prematurely.

Woman washing her face with water
Woman eating pill

Internal causes of dry skin

  • Genetic influences - Every person has a unique set of genes, which determine skin characteristics like pigmentation, moisture and lipid levels. Some diseases (like Atopic Dermatitis, ichthyosis) often have a genetic link.
  • Hormonal influences - When the level of these hormones change, for instance during adolescence and menopause, the skin’s moisture balance can be affected.
  • Age & Premature ageing - The skin’s ability to produce sweat and lipids decreases as people get older due to a reduction in function of sebaceous and sweat glands in the skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light can increase the rate of skin ageing, and skin becomes more prone to dryness as it ages. Read more about age-induced dryness.

Dry skin symptoms

Elderly woman´s face
Baby in mothers arm
Close-up from dry skin on hands

A lack of moisture within the skin can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from typical roughness, scaling, and small cracks to redness, inflammation, constant tightness and itching. However, this will differ depending on the severity and location of dryness.

Symptoms of dry skin

Initially, when the skin first begins to lose moisture, the skin feels:

  • Tight
  • Rough

Symptoms of very dry skin

If the dryness is not treated, and the skin loses further moisture, the skin becomes

  • Very tight
  • Scaly
  • Chapped
  • Itchy

Symptoms of rough and cracked skin

Certain areas of the body, particularly hands, feet, elbows and knees are prone to:

  • Extreme tightness
  • Extreme roughness
  • Skin cracks or fissures
  • Intense itching

Dry skin on face

Dry and very dry facial skin needs a comprehensive skin care routine, including using appropriate skin cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreens.

Woman´s scaly forehead

Cleansing dry facial skin

Water-based skin cleansers with added moisturising factors are suitable for dry to very dry facial skin, while oil-based cleansers are ideally suited for the skin care of very dry and extremely dry skin, including Atopic Dermatitis.

From the DermatoCLEAN range,  extra mild Eucerin DermatoClean Mild Cleansing Milk with moisturising actives cleanses thoroughly, prevents the skin from drying out. Eucerin DermatoClean Clarifying Toner instantly tones and moisturises the skin, and is suitable for all facial skin types.

Woman applying cream on her face

Moisturising facial dry skin

The key to moisturising dry or very dry facial skin is to replenish missing natural moisturising factors, which attract moisture towards, and bind moisture into the stratum corneum, or upper layer of the skin. Always remember to include the UV protection products in your face skin care routine. 

Dry Skin Replenishing Face Cream 5% UREA (4.5 star rating) contain the natural moisturising factors Urea and Lactate, which regulate moisture content by binding water in the upper layers of the skin. Both Urea and Lactate are well-tolerated, non-toxic and non-allergenic natural skin compounds.

Caring for dry ageing skin

Caring for ageing skin requires addressing the common causes of skin ageing. As skin ages, skin dryness and UV damage contribute to the development of fine lines and wrinklesloss of skin volume and density and radiance. This makes following an effective skin care routine, especially moisturising and protecting skin against UVA and UVB light, even more important.

Additionally, ageing skin often requires deep skin hydration to reduce the appearance of, and prevent the development of, further wrinkles. Read more about age-induced dryness and how to get rid of dry skin on the face.

Dry skin on body

Dry skin needs a skincare routine that does not cause further deterioration of the skin barrier and replaces missing natural moisturising factors. So, dry skin sufferers should use suitable products, depending on the severity of dryness, for the daily skincare, and for babies or young children. When choosing a skincare product for children, always check the age recommendation.

Woman soaps herself

Cleansing dry skin on the body

It is important that the cleanser is gentle enough not to wash away the skin’s natural protective barrier. Additional natural moisturising factors, such as Urea, will also help to restore the skin’s moisture balance. Urea is one of the substances produced naturally by the skin to regulate its moisture content, called “natural moisturising factors” (NMFs). Urea binds water in the uppermost layer of the skin, smoothing the skin’s surface. Being a natural skin compound, Urea is well-tolerated.

Replenishing Body Wash 5% UREA only contains mild cleansing agents, making it suitable for cleansing dry to extremely dry skin. In addition, it is also enriched with Urea and Lactate. As this ultra-mild wash formula leaves the skin’s natural barrier functioning, it is ideal for daily cleansing of dry or mature skin, or even suitable for use for skin affected by Psoriasis or diabetes.

Woman touching her right leg

Moisturising dry skin on the body

The first requirement for moisturisers for dry skin is to restore the moisture balance in the upper layers of the skin, with Urea and Lactate. Urea is one of the substances produced naturally by the skin to regulate its moisture content, called “natural moisturising factors” (NMFs). Urea binds water in the uppermost layer of the skin, smoothing the skin’s surface. Being a natural skin compound, Urea is well-tolerated. The minimum recommended concentration of Urea, even for mild dry skin, should be 5%. Very dry skin generally requires a higher concentration of Urea and other moisturising factors.

Eucerin Intensive Lotion 10% w/w Urea is suitable for use on dry skin conditions such as Xeroderma, Atopic Eczema, Hyperkeratosis and Ichthyosis. It is enriched with Urea and Lactate, replenishing these ingredients is the key to trapping moisture into the skin, which ensures long-lasting hydration. Intensive Lotion 10% also contains natural lipids, which along with Urea, can help maintain the skin’s natural moisture balance, keeping it smooth and supple. The formulation forms a fine protective layer on the skin preventing further moisture loss. Eucerin Intensive Lotion 10% w/w Urea Cutaneous Emulsion is a medicine. Always read the leaflet. Clinically tested.

Woman touching her elbow

Protecting dry body skin against sun-exposure

It is advisable to reduce sun-exposure by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen when going outdoors. Additionally, it is important that the sunscreen blocks UV rays and also contains moisturising factors too. A sunscreen for dry skin should not contain irritating perfumes and colourants, as dry skin is prone to irritation. Discover Eucerin Sunscreens for dry skin. Read more about dry and very dry body skin.

Scientist in laboratory

Dermatologist dry skin tips

1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is as important in winter as it is in summer; aim to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluids daily1.

2. Use a humidifier
Cold weather outside and hot radiators indoors can really dry skin out, try using a humidifier when at home.

3. Use gloves
Wear gloves when washing dishes to help avoid hot water and strong detergents, which can irritate skin.

4. Hypoallergenic detergents
Try to use a detergent without dyes or perfumes, as these can remain on the clothes after washing and irritate dry skin.

5. Cleansers
During the winter months it’s vital to pick a cleanser that is effective yet gentle enough not to wash away the skin’s own lipids.

6. Washing
Don’t shower or bathe for too long or with water that is too hot, as this leads to a loss of the skin’s natural moisturising factors (known as NMFs) and surface lipids.

7. Moisturise
Use a moisturiser that contains Urea and Lactate, these natural moisturising factors help bind moisture into the upper layer of the skin.

8. Scalp conditioner
Cold weather can also wreak havoc on sensitive scalps – for those with dry and itchy scalps, try introducing a leave-on product that will provide moisture to soothe and calm irritation.

9. Clothing
Wear clothes made of natural materials like cotton and silk that do not irritate the skin. Wool is natural but can irritate, and should be avoided.

10. Gentle products

Use care products without perfumes, colourants and parabens to avoid irritation.

11. Avoid lip licking
Lip licking will dry your lips out faster. Make sure lips are dry before applying a lip balm. You can use a lip balm such as the Eucerin Acute Lip Balm as frequently as required.

12. Don’t forget the SPF!
Don’t forget the SPF! Whether you are hitting the slopes or soaking up the sun abroad, make sure to use sun protection.

Treating dry skin: Eucerin reviews and real stories

Why is it worth using Eucerin products for dry skin? Because they’re proven to work and relieve symptoms of dry, tight, itchy skin. Read why Eucerin products for dry skin are loved all around the world.

Meet Rebecca and discover how her dry skin condition affected her life.

Real stories

‘This works great on my difficult skin. I had a few problems with spots on my legs after I got really stressed, and used antiseptic soap (chlorhexidine) to deal with it, but after a few months of use this dried my skin out so badly that I actually got folliculitis (i.e. spots again!) when I stopped using it, and my skin felt awful. 

Switching to the Eucerin urea emulsion made all the difference, and I can tell my skin is happy now. I tried other moisturisers that smelled a bit nicer and worked in a bit more easily, but they just aggravated my skin, so the cosmetic niceties are really not worth it! 
I just use [Eucerin Lotion] after showering (when my skin seems to dry out the most), every 2 days. It's a bit difficult to work in, but I just blot any excess with paper towel.’

‘My skin on my arms has been chronically dry but also red and bumpy for months and months and I have tried everything to help. I even went to the GP who prescribed cream for dry skin and nothing worked. Then I read the positive reviews on Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Lotion and thought I would give it a shot. It clearer my arms up in a matter of days and four weeks in I'm completely hooked. It doesn't really smell of much and it is greasy so a little goes a very long way. I would recommend everyone to try it especially if you suffer from dry skin that doesn't like other moisturisers. Total game changer for me!’

‘I have had eczema on my face for quite a while and it really got me down and effected my confidence. I tried different foods, vitamins and so many creams and ointments from the DR's ect. 
I eventually came across this product, and the itching was better within 24 hours of usage, and the eczema was gone within 5 days! Absolutely amazing results, I can’t recommend this cream enough! I have recommended it to a friend recently for his really bad eczema on his hands and again it worked for him too, brilliant stuff.’

Consumer highlights

Woman wearing winter clothing
Cold as an environmental factor can influence physiological changes.

‘If you have very dry or dry/flaky skin, this lotion is a must. After many years of trying and testing a number of other products, I have finally found a solution that allows me to manage my extremely difficult skin conditions. I highly recommend this product.’

‘I was told to use this lotion by a skin specialist because of my very dry skin caused by a condition caused by too much sun when young. It is considered the most effective. I have used this product for many years.’

‘This product really makes the skin feel softer and smoother after a shower with no more dry patches. Both me and my partner use it and have noticed an improvement in skin texture.’

‘I have been using this product for about 5 years and have found that my skin is effortlessly and reliably moisturised.’

‘I put this on, and the dry patches disappear. Amazing. I would recommend this to anyone who has dry skin problems. Really pleased with it, definitely worth the money.’

Eucerin Product Reviews


5 stars -  Absolutely amazing 
Oh my actual gosh this stuff is incredible. I’ve been in so much pain with my skin as I have hyperkeratosis on the tops of my arms, hands and fingers. I also have it on my elbows. It limits the movement in my fingers. I’ve been using this product for just over a day and what a massive difference it’s made already. Its a must have for me now.

5 stars -  Deals with dry skin problems 
I was recommended Eucerin some years ago by a dermatologist. I had suffered from dry, itchy skin since childhood and many body lotions didn't have a lasting effect. Using Eucerin every day has completely solved the problem.

5 stars - Great Product 
I have used this product for some years after I had a bad attack of dermatitis. Within a few days all those nasty red itchy patches had gone. 

5 stars - Brilliant - try it! 
y skin on my arms has been chronically dry but also red and bumpy for months and months and I have tried everything to help. Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Lotion cleared my arms up in a matter of days and four weeks in I'm completely hooked. I would recommend everyone to try it.


5 stars - BRILLIANT - 10 stars 
I suffer from very dry skin and occasional unexplained sore, red, dry patches. Expensive, I know, but given the immediate results I would have paid double - really I would. It is the best I have ever used and will continue to do so. I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS HIGHLY ENOUGH FOR ANYONE WITH DERMATITIS OR ECZEMA.

5 stars - No more flaking 
I'm on acne medication and this is the best moisturiser I have found to keep the flakiness at bay. I use it twice a day. Leave it 5-10 minutes before applying makeup as it takes a while to sink into the skin. My skin looks healthier.

5 stars - THIS WORKS 
I have had trouble with my forehead on and off for a couple of years with dry red scaly. I actually had some sort of dermatitis eczema/allergy. This cream has cleared my forehead amazingly considering I have tried some very expensive creams!

5 stars - The best! 
I have never used a better moisturiser. My young daughter is bothered terribly with dry hands, so much so that in cold weather they crack and bleed. We tried numerous products on her. I applied Eucerin cream that evening to my daughter's hands before she went to bed. The next morning her hands were perfect.

5 stars -  Very good for psoriasis 
I found this cream very good for treating psoriasis. Highly recommended.


5 stars -  amazing product for dry skin
Wow what a product. I think this is the best sensitive skin wash I’ve used. I have very very dry sensitive skin and a lot of other products have not suited my skin. I’m so glad I tried this product it lathered lovely, great quality and most importantly no reaction.

5 stars - Super smooth skin 
This is so thick and smooth you only need a little bit each time, it lather easily and leaves your skin feeling smooth, soft and new. I have eczema on various parts of my body and I can hands down say it’s a game changer!

5 stars - Great solution for very dry skin 
Eucerin UreaRepair body wash works wonders on dry and rough skin. I used it daily in the shower and it completely rejuvenated my itchy uncomfortable legs, making them feel and look incredible. 

5 stars -  Friend to sensitive skin 
It does feel as my skin is less itchy and sensitive overall. I would recommend this product and keep using it when my eczema-prone skin is going through a sensitive phase.


5 stars -  Sent from heaven! 
Been using this for years always try new things but always come back - nothing works as well as this. This product clears my skin up so well whilst keeping it hydrated - no more tight skin, even gets rid of fine lines. It sits well under makeup.

5 stars - Great cream! 
This face cream is the best. After application my skin feels so soft. I have tried many moisturizers and this one beats them all. No more dryness or tightness and makes my skin supple and looking good. I will stay with this face cream its great!!

5 stars - Remedy for a dry and sensitive skin 
I had a problem with my complexion since I could only remember. Skin feels nourished and plump since the application and feels very soft throughout the day. Wears perfectly very well under my makeup. My skin looks healthier, more radiant. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.

5 stars -  Dry and lifeless to beautifully bouncy 
After suffering with extremely dry skin and eczema for most of my life, I never thought I’d find a cream that rehydrates my very dry and eczema prone skin. I can honestly say 
that this new cream is nothing short of a miracle! After just one use my skin looked fresh and almost glowing as well as feeling beautifully soft and bouncy! After a week of using it, my skin looks almost flawless without a dry patch in sight. This product is on the top of my shopping list and is already on my bedtime routine. 

Our brand values

Pioneers in skincare

We deliver a holistic dermo-cosmetic approach to protect your skin, keep it healthy and radiant.

Recommended by dermatologists

We work together with leading dermatologist and pharmacist partners around the world to create innovative and effective skincare products they can trust and recommend.

Committed to innovation

For over 100 years, we have dedicated ourselves to researching and innovating in the field of skin science. We believe in creating active ingredients and soothing formulas with high tolerability that work to help you live your life better each day.

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