ill start, this might get long but i think the more specific we are the better this post will be.
well i guess ill start with how my skin is if its left untreated... pretty terrible. as a kid when neither me, or my family, or doctors really knew what to do for my skin it was pretty terrible. i had really thick scales of skin on the fronts and backs of my knees and elbows, i remember my lower legs were pretty much covered with thick brown scales. i cant remember exactly but i had scales in other places too, hips, knuckles, ankles, neck, armpits.
my skin would crack, badly, the worst spots were always my feet and the fronts of my hips (at the joint). and when i say bad i mean really terrible, like split right open and making it painful to move. sometimes to the point of bleeding.
my skin gets really tight when its dry, causing me to be stiff, just because my skin physically doesnt want to stretch. like not being able to straighten my arms or reach up high at all.
thats pretty much the terrible end of the spectrum. on the good end which is definately something that's come with time but what id consider to be a really good day for my skin is to go a full day without any sign of flaking, and losing only very little flexibility.
i guess i should add that over time ive gotten rid of all the thick, scaly areas that i used to have. as a kid i would have a long bath and then after getting out id scratch and scratch trying to get all the scale off. that probably wasnt the best way to go about it as far as pain is concerned but i guess its always going to be toughest the first time. and over time your skin gets to breathe and the scale is less thick and it only gets easier. im not sure if the scaling is a problem for anyone here but ill leave it at that for now.
as far as treatment goes that is the thing im really most interested in. knowing how my skin is now compared to what it once was im kind of reluctant to try a lot of the things a see mentioned on this site.
compared to how i was as a kid now the thick scaling is completely gone, the cracking is gone, my skin stays flexable enough to not really worry about it, the only thing now that bothers me is some light flaking sometimes happens if my skin is dry and also my skin seems to lose a lot of its elasticity over the day to the point where what will flex in the morning will wrinkle at night. the routine i have to go through to keep my skin like this though is what im hoping to improve on.
right now to maintain my skin as what i described as good before i need to have a long bath, every day. when i was younger i would stay in the water for about an hour, maybe 90 minutes but as i got older (i think mainly because i kept striving to get my skin better and better) the baths kept getting longer. now im in the tub 2.5 to 3 hours a day.
i should probably add that if im not able to keep this routine up, like say i miss a day or 2 it takes at least a couple days before my skin is back to being really good.
so to start i usually just sit in the water for roughly an hour, letting my skin soften up. at that point i remove any loose skin i can just by rubbing the areas where it builds up. i start with my legs as they tend to soften up first. then after ive removed any easily removed skin i lather up my legs with dish washing soap (liquid, i like to use palmolive) after doing that i will usually keep my legs out of the water until my skin dries right out with the soapy lather on it. then ill put them back in the water and rub off the soap. once ive done my legs ill start on my upper body the exact same way, first rubbing off any loose skin and then soaping up, letting that sit and rinsing it off. the soapiness of the water seems to help in loosening up any other loose skin so after soaking for a little longer ill again rub off any loose skin. at that point im pretty nearly done. i wash my hair just before getting out. i find that rather than lathering up the shampoo in my hair im best off just lathering it up a little at first and then just scratching at my scalp as i shampoo my hair to get rid of any flakes on my scalp.
having been in the water for so long i find this is also a really good time to shave, cut finger/toenails, clean out ears, things that maybe arnt as easy as they could be otherwise.
so thats basically it for the bath, the last thing i do is rinse the shampoo out of my hair and then i proceed to get out. immediately after getting out i put on lotion. i use vaseline. its not much fun being all greased up but its the only thing i can find that works this well. just after getting out of the water my skin is basically as not dry as its going to get so immediately i apply vaseline to my face, neck, arms, hands, joints (knees and hips) and my feet. the rest of my body i use vaseline cream which is basically a cream lotion with i think 30% vaseline mixed in with it. i use that for my chest/stomach, back, and legs.
after that its just a matter of letting it soak in. thats the real problem with vaseline is that it takes forever to soak in, and it takes that much longer becasue your skin is so moist underneath. i find it usually takes about 4 hours for it to soak in completely. in the meantime it helps to make sure that it is soaking in evenly everywhere, because some areas soak in faster than others. the slowest spots seam to be my forehead and on my cheekbones (maybe because the skin is thin there with little tissue underneathe?)
so yeah thats basically it. if i can i like to lay out in the sun while the lotion soaks in to open up my pores, get a little brown color to my skin (which is otherwise always red) and it also seems to speed up the process of it soaking in. you do have to be careful to avoid staying in the sun too long since with the vaseline on its easy to burn.
other things i can think of... drinking plenty of water definately is good. i dont really see a noticable improvement in my skin but i do feel better when i drink plenty of water.
alcohol... i saw this mentioned here before but when i drink my skin just goes to shiet. thats not to say i dont drink but it is at least something im aware of no matter how drunk i am because the only thing worse than an ugly drunk is an ugly ugly drunk with super dry skin.
so yeah this is a super long post but hopeully it can help some. and hopefully more people will contribute and help even more.