Your doctor is likely to conduct a physical exam and ask about your medical history, including when your dry skin started, what factors make it better or worse, your bathing habits, your diet, and how you care for your skin.
Your doctor may suggest certain diagnostic tests to check whether your dry skin is the result of an underlying medical condition, such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
In most cases, dry skin responds well to lifestyle measures, such as using moisturizers and avoiding long, hot showers and baths.
If you have very dry and scaly skin, your doctor may recommend you use an over-the-counter (nonprescription) cream that contains lactic acid or lactic acid and urea.
If you have a more serious skin disease, such as atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis or psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe prescription creams and ointments or other treatments in addition to home care.
Sometimes dry skin leads to dermatitis, which causes red, itchy skin. In these cases, treatment may include hydrocortisone-containing lotions. If your skin cracks open, your doctor may prescribe wet dressings to help prevent infection.