Dry Skin Causes & Treatments

A person scratching a dry, itchy elbow

Excessive dryness can cause uncomfortable itching, acne, and flaky, scaly, or cracked skin. Learn some common causes of dry skin and natural ways to help soothe it.

Common Causes of Dry Skin

Dry skin may occur as a result of a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Low-humidity weather conditions
  • Frequent soap use without moisturizing after
  • Using the wrong skincare products for your skin type
  • Reaction to chemical/environmental irritants
  • Excessively oily skin
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Nutrient-deficient diet
  • Aging
  • Taking frequent baths or showers with very hot water
  • Some medications

Natural Treatments for Dry Skin

There are a number of gentle, natural treatments you can try at home. If your dry skin persists, speak to a naturopathic doctor to determine and address the root cause.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural emollient, which means it helps smooth and hydrate skin. 1 You can apply coconut oil directly to your skin just like you would a typical moisturizer. Coconut oil is especially useful for sensitive areas, such as the delicate skin under the eyes, because it is very gentle.


Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe dry skin. 2 Choose natural skincare products* that contain oatmeal, or make your own soothing oatmeal soak by adding one cup of finely-ground oatmeal to a warm bath. Lay back and relax for at least 20 minutes to allow the oatmeal to work its magic.

*Always test a small spot of your skin with any new product to make sure you don’t have a reaction.


If your skin is dry due to environmental factors, using a humidifier may help. Skin is especially prone to dryness in the winter when humidity is low. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which can help your skin to rehydrate. Try using one in your home with distilled water, and see if it makes a difference to your dry skin. Pro Tip: Be sure to change the water frequently and clean your humidifier—they are prone to mold.

Dry Brushing

It may seem counterintuitive to brush dry, itchy skin. But dry brushing is a natural practice that may help improve skin integrity and increase natural oil secretions. Dry brushing is a practice that involves using a skin brush with soft, natural-fiber bristles to brush the entire body in sweeping circular motions. This is a simple and relaxing way to exfoliate skin and add a mini-massage to your daily routine. The best time to dry brush is just before taking a shower.

Note that dry brushing can irritate certain skin conditions and should not be done if you have severe psoriasis, open sores or eczema.

Diet Rich in Omega-3s

Some foods contain nutrients that contribute to skin healing. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help heal and prevent dry skin. 4 5

To get more omega-3s to your diet, add more of these foods to your diet:

  • Fatty fish, such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • Shellfish
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds

For more information on how your diet can impact your skin, see our article on Foods to Eat for Healthy Skin. Speak to a naturopathic doctor to help you come up with a dietary and lifestyle plan that gives you glowing, healthy skin.


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