Cold weather means dry skin.  If scaly legs, chapped lips, and chafed weren’t part of your wish list for the New Year, read on for how to keep your skin merry and bright through the winter.

 

During winter, exposure to cold temperatures, wind, and indoor heaters, along with decreased humidity, leads the skin to lose moisture.  Dry skin is an impaired barrier that can easily become susceptible to inflammation and/ or infection.  Avoid over-drying of skin by:

  • Shower once daily with warm water (not hot).
  • Limit shower time to less than 10 minutes per day.
  • Use a mild body wash that is fragrance free.
  • Choose products that contain moisture-trapping ceramide.
  • Immediately moisturize with a cream or ointment rather than a lotion.
  • Utilize a humidifier at night.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water.

 

Lip skin is very thin compared to typical facial skin, making it more prone to dehydration and irritation in cold weather.  To protect your lips:

  • Apply a bland emollient like Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment before washing your face or going outside.
  • Stay away from lip products that contain fragrances.
  • Avoid lip licking or lip picking.

 

As freezing temperatures set in, so does hand eczema.  This can be dry and itchy at first, but may then progress to blisters, painful cracking and fissuring.  Involvement of the skin around the nails can result in nail thinning, peeling and breakage.  To keep your hands healthy through the winter:

  • Limit hand washing to when hands are soiled.
  • Use gentle soap with warm water and avoid hand sanitizer.
  • Frequently apply a fragrance free hand cream, especially after washing.
  • Wear cotton gloves under vinyl gloves while cooking or doing housework.
  • When temperatures drop below freezing, wear warm cotton gloves before heading outside.
  • In severe cases, a prescription medication may be necessary to reduce inflammation.

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