dry and cracked clay at sunset

Q. My husband has VERY dry skin all year, but especially during winter. Straight mineral oil solves the problem. It IS messy, but soaks into the skin in about 5 or 10 minutes and the skin is no longer oily. Stand on a towel when you apply it to keep the oil off the floor.

Wearing thermal underwear seems to help, too. AmLactin lotion applied immediately after drying off stings the first few times it’s applied, but it’s not messy, and it also solves the problem.

Old-fashioned sponge baths and washing your hair in the sink can be helpful. Keep water off the rest of your skin, because standing in the shower or soaking in the bath strips the oils off the skin. My mother used to use Crisco, and her skin was soft and didn’t itch.

A. Thank you for sharing your dry skin solutions. Mineral oil might indeed help, but as you point out, it is MESSY! Not everyone will want to stand around for 10 minutes waiting for the oil to work its way into the skin.

Other visitors to this website have offered some different approaches:

“My dermatologist recommended Vanicream for the terrible rash on the front of my legs (that appeared as soon as the furnace was turned on this past fall). I apply it as soon as I get out of the shower and it works!  No more rashes.

“I’m also going to try the Udderly Smooth Extra Care with 20% Urea as my hands have been terrible (sandpapery + those nasty paper cuts that hurt unless you put bandaids on your fingers).”


D.Z. is referring to a moisturizer with a high concentration of urea. Redex Industries, makers of Udderly Smooth creams and lotions have created a 20% Extra Care Cream (full disclosure: Redex Industries underwrites our radio show).

A study in the most respected dermatology journal (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, June, 2012) suggests that when an adequate amount of urea is applied to the skin in a topical cream, it can strengthen the skin’s barrier function and boost its resistance to microbes. That may be why it is so helpful for conditions such as eczema (atopic dermatitis).

Visitors to this website have found that urea works for a variety of skin problems:

“Products with urea work great on calluses.  Even though I exercise rigorously, since I have used urea products on my heel, I don’t have calluses anymore.  My heels are smooth as silk!”


“I am currently using the Udderly Smooth cream with urea and having similar great results!  I’ve been putting a good-sized blob on the spider-vein area and covering with a bandage at night, and the spots have significantly faded and diminished in just a few days!”


“I applied the cream at night before bed. The spider vein patches began to fade in 2 weeks and were almost totally gone in another 3 weeks. My doctor was surprised at the results and assumed it was due to the keratolytic action of the urea on the superficial veins.”


It is not always easy to find high-potency urea creams. If your lips are as dry as the rest of your skin, you may find our Winter Skin (and lips) Survival Kit of great value. We are offering a 15% savings on our all-natural lip care products (pomegranate, berry & chocolate mint) along with 15% off a two-ounce tube of Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 plus a FREE copy of our Guide to Skin Care and Treatment with other natural remedies for eczema.

Here is a link to the Winter Skin Survival Kit. We also now have the Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Large Size tub (8 ounces) should you want to prepare for the long, cold winter ahead.

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  1. Dawn O

    I used to get dry skin and very dry lips that cracked and were painful, especially in the corners. For the last 3 or 4 years, I have taken a tablespoon of Carlson’s Very Finest Fish Oil liquid daily. I just turned 73 and am often complimented on how soft my skin is, and the fact that I have almost no wrinkles. I haven’t had dry skin, or the dry cracked lips for at least the last 2 years. Omega 3’s are important for whole body health, but you get an added bonus of improved skin and hair conditions from regular use.

  2. fbl

    Bette, see my post above and increase your natural oils internally, especially coconut oil.
    In the meantime you can take organic coconut oil and work a liberal amount of it into your scalp and hair. Put a plastic shower cap over your head and leave it on for several hours at least. All day would be better. Shampoo with a mild soap such as Dr. Bronner’s and let your hair air dry.
    Do this every week until you can see the difference that eating the natural oils makes in your skin. One other thing you might want to do is change your shampoo, hair rinse and hair spray if you use them. Many people are very sensitive to the ingredients of these products.
    What I didn’t mention in my post above is that my hair is in very good shape with no split ends at all even though I wear it longer now.

  3. BRM

    I have a very dry scalp and have to itch it all the time. What can I do to improve oil in my scalp?
    Thank you.

  4. Laurie M.

    My favorite Cream to use is what I read about on this site, Cerave. We moved to a house with no water Softener and I started getting hang nails as soon as I ran out of Cerave. I tried using Vanicream with no success. I got more Cerave and that takes care of the hang nails!! It leaves your skin with a wonderful soft texture and not oily or greasy. It must be the Ceramides in it that makes the difference!!!

  5. fbl

    Gabriele has the right idea but vegetable oils are NOT the answer.
    Dry skin treatment has to start from within. I have learned this the hard way and a bit late in life. All my life I’ve had problems with dry skin and cracking and bleeding calluses on my feet.
    The lesson I learned is you have to start with getting the right oils inside the body for them to do their work. Yes, coconut and palm oils, organic butters and lard. Virgin olive oil too of course.
    I’ve had no problems now for about 14 years. Ever since I have made an afternoon hot chocolate drink with about 3 TB of coconut oil, stevia for sweetener and about six tsp. of heavy cream and boiling water. Start small with the coconut oil though as it will clean out your liver.
    I don’t have to use moisturizers very often in the summer and only a few times a week in the winter. Yes, I use a coconut oil based one from Tropical Traditions. I use the coconut oil on my face as needed and no other cosmetics or moisturizers.
    Even my family Dr. (of 25 years) recently commented on how good my skin is. Yes, I told him my “secret”.

  6. SP

    I wouldn’t use mineral oil for anything, either. I also avoid propylene glycol. Check out the ingredients of your skin care products on the Environmental Working Group website. You will probably throw out most of what you have. Manufacturers put in cancer causing chemicals and hormone disruptors in various forms in so many products. You can also search for your product to find out what is in it.
    I have been using coconut oil on my skin for quite a while, and it works great. I also consume a tablespoon of Carlson’s liquid fish oil every day. That has helped quite a bit and really helps my dry eyes. It is lightly flavored with lemon and has no fishy taste to it. In addition it is loaded with Omega 3’s.

  7. NBM

    My dermatologist recommends any of the topical lotions/creams containing at least 10% UREA (Udderly Smooth has 20%).
    I use the U-Lactin or the Udderly Smooth.
    AmLactin (mentioned in the original topic column) is actually drying to the skin as it contains alfa-hydroxy acid, which in higher concentrations acts as a “chemical peel”…thus the burning/stinging syptoms that occur, and it does NOT contain any urea.
    I just wish the UdderlySmooth came in a lotion version.

  8. Barb

    I’m with Gabriele. Mineral oil strips out Vitamins A, D E and K. I won’t go near it! I do fine with first cold press virgin olive oil. It takes just a tiny amount to do the trick.

  9. DS

    Coconut oil, both topically and internally, has helped my skin. I try not to use on my skin what I would not eat.

  10. ladyliza

    That is because mineral oil is a petroleum based product. I don’t believe humans should be using vaseline, mineral oil, or any other petroleum based product on our skin as it gets absorbed into the body. The more we use, the more susceptible we are to getting cancer. Coconut oil has so many good uses. You are right to use it.

  11. Gabriele

    I have always avoided anything with mineral oil. I remember reading that because it is a MINERAL oil, not a plant or animal it is not metabolised by the body in the same way. It is my understanding that it works well as a laxitive because it passes through the body–but the problem is, oil soluble vitamins like A, D & E can be carried out of the body in the mineral oil
    I had a friend who used baby oil (which is usually made with mineral oil) on her body as a sun tan lotion. (and she got a tan every summer). She aged more rapidly than she should have but she swore if it was good for babies, it was good for her.
    I know that a lot of moisturisers use propylene glycol which is a humectant but I know from my own experience that it is not always useful..and for some people, can be drying.
    I have dry skin but have to avoid many of the common chemicals but I have found shea butter to be very beneficial. A friend whose sister has problems with very dry skin sent her a bottle of avocado oil (he uses it both for the kitchen and for skin and hair) and she uses it now with great benefit.
    I would also suggest making certain to add some good quality vegetable oil to the diet (NO margerine!); people will reduce their oil intake thinking it will be beneficial but the body does need a certain amount and if it isn’t provided, the skin (the largest organ in the body) will be the first to suffer.
    I (and others) find glycerin soap to be very drying but I’d avoid soaps that have too many ‘moisturizers’ as well.
    When bathing, don’t rub with the towel, pat the skin dry instead. It will not irritate the skin or remove natural body oils.
    One of the ways to see if you’re getting the right kind of oils is to look at your hair–if it’s dry then you’re lacking some needed supplement. Good skin and hair begin inside, with good nutrition. Then look for things to help you with what’s not working.

  12. CJS

    I have used mineral oil and have also found it quite messy. Now I use coconut oil. It feels wonderful on the skin, is not messy, and does not make me break out.

  13. Merry Mount

    Regarding the comment on paper cuts, put Vicks Vaporub and the pain will disappear.

  14. MHO

    This winter 2013 I haven’t had the usual split skin around my thumbs from having the heat on. I’m wondering if it is because we put in a soft water unit for the first time.

  15. alxzba

    I continue to be disappointed in today’s medical mindset to treat symptoms rather than prevention. I have a terrible time especially in the winter with dry skin — some people don’t. What is the difference and how can that difference be used to address prevention?

  16. Cindy

    I tried the Udderly Smooth Plus-20 recently and was SO PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!
    I’ve always had dry skin but never used body lotion because I simply can’t stand to wait for it to sink in… or the greasy or tacky feel that’s often left even after it sinks.
    Well, the Udderly Smooth sinks in so fast, and it also leaves skin feeling silky. Goodbye dry skin! And, I too am finding my spider vein areas growing lighter and lighter. What a bonus, and who woulda thunk it.

  17. Sunny M.

    Coconut oil. I love Udderly Smooth for hands and feet, but coconut oil, for me, is best for my face.

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