Win the Battle with Dry Winter Skin

Feb 9, 2010

Winter’s severe weather can leave skin dry, chapped, and often painfully cracked. Even mild climates are affected by swings in temperature and humidity. When air temperature drops and humidity decreases, the outer layers of our skin lose essential water and oils. This leaves the telltale feelings of tight, itchy, and sensitive dry skin.

Three simple steps will help wage the war with winter skin: Prevent, Protect, and Promote.

The cold air outside drives us indoors where we crank up the heat and take long, hot showers but this is exactly what we should avoid to encourage healthy skin. High heat and low humidity rob skin of its natural moisture content. Using a humidifier to replace the moisture in the air is extremely beneficial. Consider limiting showers to 5-10 minutes with moderately warm water. This practice will add moisture to your skin, while excessive heat and shower length will actually lower moisture levels. Additionally, studies show that hard water is damaging to sensitive, dry skin. Consider investing in a water softener, to reduce hard mineral contaminants that irritate skin and necessitate the increased use of soaps and shampoos.

Lotions, lip balms, and appropriate clothing all help to protect the skin and replenish the moisture that is lost during the winter. To get the most benefit from any lotion or cream, apply within 3 minutes of bathing or hand washing. This is when the skin is most ready to accept the added moisture. Use products that are dermatologist recommended and are free of excessive perfumes and dyes. When heading outside, apply a protective lip balm and cover exposed skin with appropriate clothing. Use sunscreen on exposed skin. Don’t forget – the sun shines in the winter too.

Drinking plenty of water may seem like an obvious solution, but try as we might with lotions and moisturizers, the best thing we can do for our skin is to hydrate it from the inside out. Our skin is an outward reflection of what is happening inside and often a lack of water intake and an imbalance of essential vitamins like A, B & E can leave our skin dry, dull, and lifeless. If your daily diet does not include a substantial amount of green leafy vegetables, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, consider adding these supplements to your diet.

Making some simple changes can increase the health of your skin during winter. These recommendations should be easy to implement to help you win the battle against dry, sensitive winter skin.

Additional information can be found at the American Academy of Dermatology

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