Ways to prevent or heal dry skin

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The air both outdoors and indoors is as dry as a desert. That can leave your skin parched, cracked and even prone to infection.

Dr. Molly Menser of Sunflower Dermatology says when you reach for relief, go for the heavier stuff.

"Always a cream, always a cream or even an ointment. Creams and ointments are much more hydrating to the skin than a lotion," said Dr. Menser.

The skin specialist says lotions don't seal in enough moisture after you bathe. Also, many contain dyes and heavy fragrances. A green apple lotion used each day may not keep the doctor away.

"Certainly skin that's already dry and irritated is going to be more inflamed or irritated by the presence of fragrance or dyes in the product," said Dr. Menser.

She recommends Vanicream to her patients. Many retailers sell it. She says it's good on any part of the body including the face.

"A cream that is much less greasy than a lot of other creams on the market," Dr. Menser said.

She says CeraVe and Cetaphil are other good choice. But if you can stand a little greasiness, Vaseline is great for dry skin.

"My solution to the greasiness is to smear that, but cover that with white cotton gloves or even an old pair of cotton socks at bedtime," said the dermatologist.

When you shower or bathe, make it quick. Go for five minutes or less at a lukewarm temperature since hot water is more dehydrating.

As for soap, it's best to avoid deodorant or anti-bacterial if you have dry skin. Also, blot your skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing, and then immediately apply the cream or ointment to seal in the moisture.

If you try all these measures and don't get relief, see a dermatologist. You could have a skin disease and need prescription creams or ointments.