Say the word winter and most of us conjure up images of snowball fights, hot cocoa, Christmas trees and wassail. But for many, winter joys are tainted by chapped lips, cracked and bleeding hands and itchy skin. For those of us who suffer from moderate to severe dry skin during the cold, dry winter months, there are things we can do to find comfort until the warm days of spring.
One of the main culprits to dry winter skin is the heaters we use in our homes. The warm air blowing through the vents feels nice but it sucks the moisture off the top layers of our skin. Rather than set the thermostat at 60 and risk frost bite, take these few steps to replenish the moisture lost.
- Run a humidifier in your home at night. The added moisture in the air gives your skin a little help in the healing process.
- Limit shower frequency and duration. At first it sounds counterproductive that a shower would hydrate the skin. But frequent showers strip us of natural oils that seal moisture in.
- Bath or shower in warm rather than hot water.
- Use a body wash rather than bar soap. Soaps with perfumes tend to irritate sensitive skin so stick with an unscented, mild body wash.
- Softly pat dry rather than rub to allow a little bit of moisture to remain on the skin.
- Moisturize while skin is still wet, usually within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower. Usually creams and ointments work better to protect the skin than lotions. Again, steer clear of added perfumes to avoid skin irritation.
- If necessary, moisturize two to three times a day, especially in areas that are prone to dryness like hands and face.
- What you put into your body ultimately affects your skin. Some foods help maintain moisture while others aggravate dryness. The following diet tips will help you deal with dry winter skin.
- Possibly the most important staple to any diet is also the most accessible and least expensive. A good, old glass of water will go a long way in hydrating your itchy skin. When you are hydrated from the inside, the outside follows suit.
- Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics meaning they cause an individual to urinate more often, leading to fluid loss. Of course an occasional drink won't hurt but over time excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine will have devastating effects on skin.
- Scientific evidence is mounting in favor of healthy fats. Some studies have suggested that a diet high in mono and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids actually helps prevent dry skin.
Healthy skin is the body's first layer of defense against colds and infections. Take some time to protect and care for your skin to help ensure you don't miss a moment of winter wonder.
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