Is Winter Weathering Your Skin?
When it comes to winter, not all flakes are snow flakes. Cold weather wreaks havoc on our skin, making it dry and flaky. This dryness often causes itchiness, resulting in a condition commonly referred to as "winter itch."
"Most of us experience dry, itchy skin from time to time, but you should seek medical attention if discomfort becomes severe," says Anjali Dahiya, M.D., a dermatologist at the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "The best thing you can do to relieve the itch is to moisturize your skin."
"Remember, dry skin is due to lack of water," says Dahiya. Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing or showering while your skin is still wet to trap water in the skin, she advises. Dahiya suggests the following tips:
• Moisturize daily Cream moisturizers are better than lotions for normal-to-dry skin. If you have sensitive skin, choose a moisturizer without fragrance or lanolin.
• Cleanse your skin, but don't overdo it Too much cleansing removes skin's natural moisturizers. It's enough to wash your face, hands, feet, and between the folds of your skin once a day. While you can rinse your trunk, arms and legs daily, it's not necessary to use soap or cleanser on these areas every day.
• Limit use of hot water & soap If you have "winter itch," take short, lukewarm showers or baths with a non-irritating, non-detergent-based cleanser. Immediately afterward, apply a mineral-oil or petroleum-jelly-type moisturizer. Gently pat skin dry.
• Humidify Humidifiers can be beneficial. However, be sure to clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions to protect against mold growth.
• Protect yourself from the wind Cover your face and use a petroleum-based balm for your lips.
• Protect your skin from the sun Even in the winter months, use a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater if you will be outdoors for prolonged periods. Overexposure to the sun's rays can lead to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
• See your dermatologist If you have persistent dry skin, scaling, itching, rashes or skin growths that concern you, see your dermatologist.