Exposed: Get Tips for Winterproofing to Prevent Dry Skin

Around this time of year, taking a long hot bath or a lingering warm shower can seem like a perfect way to beat any winter woes, but this cold weather cure can have its down side — make that its itchy and scratchy side.

Following the same skin care routine year-round may not work so well when the humidity drops. Without a change in your skin care, dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack and even bleed.

To help prevent dry skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you limit your baths and showers to 5 to 10 minutes. It can help add moisture to the skin. Longer baths or showers will often leave your skin less hydrated than before you started. Don’t bathe more than once a day and wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.

Even how you dry off can affect your skin. If you want to avoid dry skin, practice a light pat, not a rub down, with a soft towel. Before your skin is completely dry, slather on some moisturizer. Choose creams, ointments or oils instead of lotions, which contain alcohol. Moisturize a few times a day. It can help keep your skin from drying out.

What kind of moisturizer should you choose? Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum.

So what else can you do to winterproof your skin?  

  • Relief to go. Hands can be the first place to see dry skin. Consider carrying a non-greasy hand cream with you and apply it after each hand washing.
  • Wear gloves. You can reduce raw, dry skin by wearing gloves when you go outside.
  • It’s a wash. Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
  • Smooth as silk. Wear cotton or silk under clothing made of wool or other material that feels rough.
  • Our lips are sealed. Choose a lip balm that feels good on your lips. If your lips sting or tingle after you apply the lip balm, switch to one that does not cause this reaction.
  • Drink it in. Dry skin could also be a sign that your body is dehydrated. Stay hydrated by drinking water and eating water-rich fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeine and alcohol; they tend to dehydrate you.
  • In the air. Plug in a humidifier and set it to 50 to 60 percent to add more moisture to the air.
  • Soft shave. Shave right after bathing, when hairs are soft. To lessen the irritating effects of shaving your face or legs, use a shaving cream or gel. Leave the product on your skin about 3 minutes before starting to shave. Shave in the direction that the hair grows.
  • Resist the itch. Don’t scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.

Dry skin also can be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

What are your go-to solutions for winter-weathered skin?


Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; Harvard Health

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