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Treatment for Extremely Dry Skin: What Will Your Doctor Do For You?

If you suffer from extremely dry skin, you've known that maddening itch. You've probably tried every lotion and potion you can find at the drug store. Unfortunately, relief just doesn't come. You decide to scedule a visit with your doctor to see if she or he can give you some help.
Steroid Creams and Antihistamines:
Yes, sometimes extremely dry skin is uncomfortable enough to send you on a trip to the doctor. One reason you may need to see a doctor for treatment for extremely dry skin is that you have scratched yourself until you have sores or even an infection in your skin. If you have scaly, peeling skin over much of your body you should probably see a doctor. If you've really tried to treat it on your own but it doesn't get any better, or you itch so bad you can't sleep, are other reasons a trip to the physician may be in order. Doctors often prescribe a steroid cream to control itching and speed healing. They may also put you on an oral medicine such as diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine. Antihistamines are medicines that primarily work to help a person with allergies control their runny noses and watery eyes.
Diphenhydramine:
Diphenhydramine has the effect of making a person itch less. In addition, it makes people feel sleepy. In fact, the over the counter sleeping pills you can buy are actually made of diphenhydramine, just like the allergy pills you can get. Taking an oral antihistamine can help a person itch less and sleep better at the same time. Sleep is necessary to finding healing for any disorder in the body. Often in cases of severe itching, people lose sleep, so diphenhydramine seems like a logical choice. There can be side effects, however, and this medicine is not suitable for everyone. Harmful side effects that sometimes occur are increased heart rate, palpitations, low blood pressure, and blurred vision. People with the eye disease glaucoma shouldn't use it, nor should people with high blood pressure or asthma.
Sometimes diphenhydramine is added to over the counter lotions, too. Calamine lotion is a watery over the counter medicine that is soothing to itchy dry skin and other skin conditions such as poison ivy. Manufacturers have started adding diphenhydramine to calamine lotion, which raises the price considerably, but also makes a more pleasant product to use.
Cortisone creams:
Steroid creams, most notably hydorcortisone, have long been prescribed by doctors for dry itchy skin conditions, but have recently become available over the counter (OTC). The main difference between the OTC hydrocortisone products and the creams prescribed by doctors is the strength. Prescription creams have a much higher percentage of cortisone in their ingredients. Hydrocortisone and other steroid creams decrease itching, burning, and swelling, and also work as a moisturizer. The low dose creams can be used safely over the long term, but should not be used over large parts of the body.
Strong creams may be suitable in severe cases of extremely dry itchy skin, but should not be used for a long time. When they are used regularly over a large period of time, they have been known to cause thinning of the skin. This effect is worse in skin fold areas, like the groin or armpit. Some doctors recommend applying cortisone cream to the skin, and then wrapping it in plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. The effect of thinning the skin is worse when this treatment is used.
Safe Use:
If you do go to a doctor and get a prescription for hydorcortisone cream there are some things to remember. One is that you don't need to use a whole lot. Use a small amount and smooth it gently on the skin. If you have a chronic dry skin condition that is not likely to get better, you might want to leave the medicine off on days when you aren't itching as badly. This will help your body avoid side effects. Your body can also develop a resistance to this medicine so that it stops being effective. By skipping days, you decrease the likelihood of this happening.
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