Dry skin? Watch out for this!

Got an itch?

You know you're not supposed to scratch it. But you also can't avoid scratching it, because it's driving you nuts!

And, sure enough, when you do, it gets worse.

For 30 million Americans, those itches aren't just a minor a nuisance that come and go. They're part of the everyday reality of living with eczema and similar skin conditions.

If you have one of these conditions yourself, or if you just dry up easily in the autumn weather, you probably buy moisturizer by the gallon.

And if you're like many people, you've probably found that you can practically baste yourself in the stuff at times and not get a whole heck of a lot of relief.

Now, the latest research shows why moisturizer often doesn't work well... or, in some cases, can even make your skin worse.

It comes down to a simple marketing scam.

All those packaging buzzwords like "hypoallergenic," "fragrance-free," "paraben-free," and "all natural" are about as meaningful as a campaign promise, as a new analysis of moisturizers finds that most of the brands that make those claims DON'T deliver on those promises.

Just 17 percent of "hypoallergenic" skin creams were actually hypoallergenic.

The rest -- a stunning 83 percent, or more than 4 out of 5 -- contained at least one ingredient known to trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Even "fragrance-free" has become a meaningless label: Nearly half of the products to make that claim had at least one ingredient considered to be a fragrance.

Once you match all the claims to the lab analysis, just 12 percent of the 174 common moisturizers tested were actually free of all forms of potential allergens.

This isn't just a matter of lying on the label. It's also stealing cash out of your wallet, because the study finds each of those buzzwords leads to a price hike.

The ones that say "dermatologist recommended" -- often the same ones that claim to be "hypoallergenic" and/or "fragrance-free" -- cost 35 percent more than products without that label claim.

Don't worry, I'm not about to leave you high and dry. That'll only make your skin worse.

The study finds one common skin cream that often does deliver on the promise of being allergen-free: plain old shea butter.

The key is to make sure you're getting the real deal. You don't want something "made with" shea butter... or something that's even mostly shea butter.

You want shea butter, pure and raw -- and ideally organic.

It'll cost a little more than a giant pump bottle of cheap moisturizer, but at least you'll get what you pay for.