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What Causes Dry, Itchy Skin & How to Care for it

24 Apr 2021

The question of what causes itchy skin is often related to dryness. Dry, itchy skin is more common in winter, but this uncomfortable skin concern persists year-round for some. The causes can be internal or external, but fortunately, there are many ways to minimise dryness and itchy-prone skin. 

Read on to learn how to care for dry and itchy skin with specially formulated products from our Toleriane and Cicaplast ranges. We’ll also walk through some general care tips and the best skincare ingredients to look out for if you have dry, itchy-prone skin.

What is dry, itchy skin?

Dry to very dry skin is what happens when either internal or external factors cause the skin to experience excessive transepidermal water loss (TEWL). When too much moisture is lost through the skin’s natural barrier, it becomes dry. Often, the dryness is also accompanied by itchy-prone skin.

Dry skin is a common skin concern with some uncomfortable signs and symptoms, the good news is that well-targeted skincare can go a long way to help hydrate your skin.

What are the symptoms?

The first step to managing the symptoms of dry skin is to know what to look for. While the symptoms of itchy skin are self-explanatory, dry skin has several signs that are less obvious.

Aside from looking dehydrated, dry skin can also be rough, scaly, flaky or dull in appearance. In addition to these visible symptoms, dry skin can also feel tight or tingly.

What are the causes of dry, itchy skin?

To understand how dry skincare works, let’s look at what causes dry skin. We live in a harsh environment and our skin acts as a barrier to keep external aggressors at bay. To properly perform this function while remaining supple and intact, your skin needs to maintain a healthy moisture level, namely a water content of approximately 10-15 per cent. When TEWL becomes excessive and results in low skin moisture content, the outermost corneal layer of the skin’s cells detaches from each other with more ease, causing desquamation (flaky skin).

Healthy skin is able to retain hydration via a natural moisture barrier, but this skin barrier can become damaged due to UV exposure and over-cleansing among many other reasons.

There are many triggers, both external and internal, that can exacerbate dry, itchy skin. In terms of external factors, many of these are climate-related.

Extreme hot or cold temperatures, wind, UV rays and central heating and cooling all lead to decreased moisture levels in the air and in turn dry skin. Aside from the weather, external aggressors like allergens, pollutants, harsh soaps, abrasives and chemicals can all impact the skin’s outer layer, leaving it more vulnerable to moisture loss. Lastly, frequent exposure to water is an especially common trigger for dry skin.

On an internal level, some medications such as steroids and retinoids can lead to dry skin. Other common internal causes also include ageing, hormonal changes and nutrient deficiencies (especially in essential fatty acids).

Can dehydration cause itchy skin?

Absolutely, it might sound simple, but many people forget that neglecting to hydrate internally leads directly to dry, itchy feeling skin. Does drinking water help dry skin? The answer is a resounding yes.

How to hydrate your skin?

While some of the causes of dry skin are simple to manage, you can’t control the weather or the ageing process. Your skin may naturally be prone to dryness, but fortunately learning how to better hydrate your skin is not difficult with a little expert advice.

La Roche-Posay recommends managing dry itchy-prone skin by moisturising regularly with hydrophilic, humectant moisturisers like our Toleriane Dermallergo Fluid Lightweight Moisturiser to help attract and retain water at the skin’s surface. It’s important to stick to a moisturising routine twice a day, even if at times this feels excessive. This will avoid the skin becoming dry again and entering the dreaded dry-itch-scratch cycle.

Minimising exposure to external aggressors will aid the effectiveness of your hydrating skincare routine. If you can, try to turn down central heating and cooling or use a humidifier to counteract dry air. Avoiding hot water and moisturising immediately after showering can also help with dryness and itching.

What ingredients work to care for dry, itchy skin?

Choosing the right ingredients is essential to ensure your skincare routine for dry, itchy skin effectively targets your symptoms. Seek out products with the below ingredients to hydrate the skin and fortify the natural moisture barrier.

Vitamin B5

Also known as Panthenol, vitamin b5 is known for its impressive ability to help repair the natural skin barrier function. You can find this barrier strengthening ingredient in our Cicaplast B5 Facial Sheet Mask 25g and Cicaplast Mains Hand Barrier Cream


Neurosensine is a type of dipeptide that occurs naturally in the skin. When you boost your skin’s supply via your skincare routine, this ingredient can soothe skin and visibly reduce redness. This makes neurosensine well suited to dry, allergy-prone skin. Our Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Hydrating Serum is formulated with 0.1% neurosensine for optimal skincare benefits


Niacinamide for dry skin has a supportive function for the skin’s natural barrier. This form of vitamin B3 can be found in serums, moisturisers and more


Madecassoside is an extract of the Centella Asiatica herb, with remarkable soothing properties. This impressive ingredient can be found in our Cicaplast range.


Glycerin is a hardworking emollient ingredient that can be derived from natural sources or synthesised. This humectant ingredient helps protect the skin by drawing moisture to its surface and keeping the skin hydrated.

Learn more about the skin’s ecosystem of bacteria by reading our article What Is The Microbiome?



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