Cracking, chaffing, dry patches and itchiness are unpleasant symptoms of dry and irritated skin that often comes with winter. As temperatures drop, the wind howls, and humidity levels hit an all-year low, our skin requires extra attention and care to stay healthy.
“Further into winter, conditions get dryer and you have to be careful because when skin is dry like that, there is a lot of weakness to it,” Jeff Moore, an instructor of pharmaceutics in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, said in a news release. “During cold spells, your skin is constantly bombarded, dried out, and increasingly susceptible to infection.”
To be sure you are effectively treating and protecting your skin during the harsh winter season, Moore has provided the following skin care tips:
- Moisturize from the inside out: When we are properly hydrated, our skin lubricates itself from the inside, and that moisture works itself up from the lower dermal layers to the upper dermal layers at the surface. By drinking the recommended six-to-eight glasses of water daily, you can help keep dry skin at bay.
- Take shorter, cooler showers: Despite how soothing a long, hot shower feels when it is chilly outside, the steam and heat can do skin more harm than good by drawing out moisture that is on the skin and causing dryness. Instead, keep the water temperature comfortably warm and take shorter showers.
- Create a barrier with moisturizers: When applying lotions, you are creating a barrier to protect your skin against dryness. This barrier allows time for hydration and healing to occur from the inside. For best results, regularly apply a product with ingredients like shea butter and petrolatum immediately following a bath or shower, when the skin is still moist.
- Exfoliate regularly: Exfoliation not only removes rough dry patches, but it promotes new cell growth by exposing more hydrated levels of the skin and bringing them up to the surface. Exfoliation also enhances the absorption of skin care products, so it is best to apply a moisturizer after exfoliating to ensure that the moisture brought up to the surface of the skin does not evaporate right away.
- Avoid harsh soaps and cleansers: Pay special attention when picking your soap, as certain seemingly-mild cleansers actually contain chemicals that strip water from the skin. Generally, products containing preservatives, fragrances, and lye are harsher and more irritating to the skin. Instead, look for products that contain glycerin, a humectant that traps and maintains moisture.
- Use a humidifier: The use of heaters and furnaces in the winter can greatly reduce the humidity level inside your house and suck moisture out of the air. Using a small bedside humidifier, especially at night while sleeping, can help combat dry skin and keep moisture in the bedroom.