After getting to the point of wanting to rip my skin off, I did a little research to end this madness. Below are some tips that worked for me if you too are experiencing such discomfort;
1) Don't take hot showers. I am a two shower a day girl. I love me a hot shower right before bed. Nothing is better than laying down feeling clean and warm. Water unfortunately can wash away the natural oils that protect your skin. Itchiness however is often the "first sign of excessive dryness precipitated by cold or dry air, soap, and bathing in too hot of water", according to Jennifer Linder, MD Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UC San Francisco.
2) Change your washing habits. Based on my research, I use far too much soap. I am your typical OCD shower'er - I wash my body, head to toe, and hair every time as if I was scrubbing the bottom of my shoes. This is a no-no according to an article I found on WebMD. They claim that "unless you are a child or a ditch-digger, the only parts of the body that need any soap are your feet, hands, face, groin, and underarms. The rest of the body will get clean enough with simple water."
3) Choose soaps wisely. Apparently I also pick the wrong kind of soap. My cheap Dove bar soap that generates lots of bubbles leaving me feeling squeaky clean is stripping the oils from the surface of my skin which dries it out even more. It is best to use a more mild, "fragrance free" skin cleanser. That's not the same as "unscented" which may still have perfumes. I especially like the Caress Whipped Souffle Body Wash, $6.50, drugstores.)
4) Moisturize while still damp. THIS WORKS! Biggest lesson learned for me. Moisturizer is least likely to help when your skin is completely dry. You want to lightly pat yourself dry and then slather your body with moisturizer immediately following your shower. Why? So the lotion traps the moisture still on your skin. Let the lotion soak in and then if you are still too damp for comfort, towel off the excess. When I need to apply lotion throughout the day, I'll now pump the lotion into my palm, add a splash of water to the lotion and lather on my body. It also helps rub it in more quickly too.
5) Use a thick greasy moisturizer. This is my least favorite tip but imperative to lock in the moisture. There's nothing I hate more than being in a hurry and having to spend 5 minutes rubbing a thick moisturizer into my skin. But it's worth it and so important. Thick and powerful doesn't however mean expensive. If fact, my doctor informed me that the cheaper stuff you can buy at a drugstore is better than any high-end products. The best test - put the lotion on the palm of your hand. Flip your hand over. If it runs or drips, it's not thick enough. The one that especially worked well for me was Johnson and Johnson's "Vanilla Oatmeal" Baby Lotion (27 oz, $5.20, Target or other drugstores.) It's super mild, smells good and oatmeal is a known dry skin remedy. Although I didn't try, my Dr. recommended Eucerin's "Dry Skin Therapy Plus Intensive Reair" Lotion or Eucerin's Calming Itch Relief.