We have all had to deal with dry skin at some point. The condition is, however, most prevalent during the cold winter months when the surrounding air is all dry. This, alongside certain medical conditions, aging, the use of harsh soaps, and bathing frequently result in flaky, dry skin. Most of the people living in the Northern Hemisphere suffer from rough, raw, red, and itchy skin during the winter season. The low humidity robs the epidermis of moisture, leading to a condition commonly known as winter Xerosis. It can also affect those living in the Southern Hemisphere, take a look at Grahams Natural Australia for effective skin care.
Fortunately though, there are plenty of easy and inexpensive ways in which one can use to restore normal humidity levels indoors, thus prevent dry, flaky skin. Outlined below are a few tips and tricks on how to take care of your skin during winter to battle dry skin.
Keep The Skin Moisturized
Always have a skin moisturizer close-by during winter. As the name suggests, a skin moisturizer helps restore and seal in moisture on/in your skin, hence your first line of defense against dry skin. The ingredients used to manufacture skin moisturizers (hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, glycerin, ceramides, and lecithin) work by making available moisture on the skin, thus keeping the skin soft. Other ingredients, including silicone, lanolin, and mineral oil, help seal the moisture within the skin, reducing the risk of the available moisture from evaporating. Some manufacturers also include linolenic, linoleic, and lauric acids, emollients responsible for keeping the skin smooth by filling it up with moisturizing compounds.
The greasier and thicker a moisturizer is, the more effective it is in keeping your skin well-hydrated and smooth. Applying a generous amount of moisturizer all over your skin, or even moisturizing oils and petroleum jelly, will thus help keep the skin moisturized for longer. You might also want to use these moisturizers when your skin is still damp, and especially after taking a bath.
How To Combat Dry Skin
1. Use a humidifier. This is particularly essential during winter when air is dry. Set the humidifier to around 60% for the best results. The humidifier will help improve indoor moisture levels, thus reducing the impact the cold weather has on your skin.
2. Have shorter baths. Try to limit your bathing time to less than 10 minutes. It would also be best if you use lukewarm water instead of hot water when bathing. Hot water could wash away natural skin oils needed to keep the skin smooth and hydrated. Bathing for too long can have a similar effect as well.
3. Use soaps sparingly. Some soaps, especially perfumed, deodorized, and those with alcohol ingredients, can strip the skin of essential natural oils. That said, choose moisturizing preparations (Basis, Olay, Dove) instead. Soap-free cleaners (e.g., Oilatum-AD, Cetaphil, and Aquanil) are the perfect alternatives to soaps. Use a few drops of essential oils on your bath to reduce the need for soap while bathing.
4. Stay away from scrub brushes, bath sponges, and washcloths. These are known to damage wipe away natural oils in the skin (during winter) hence not recommended. Use these lightly if you have to. These scrubbing materials have a similar effect as hot water and bathing soaps; they wipe away natural oils from the skin, leaving it vulnerable to flakiness and dryness.
5. Apply a generous layer of moisturizer immediately after bathing. The moisturizer helps lock in moisture between skin cells. You can reduce the greasy feel of thick creams and petroleum jelly by using a small amount of the same and rubbing both the skin and your hands with the jelly or cream until it is no more.
6. Use a cold compress to relieve itchy spots. Avoid the temptation to scratch as doing so will only leave the skin exposed to the harsh weather.
7. Avoid fabric softeners and fragrance-rich detergents.
8. Avoid fabrics that cause skin irritations, e.g., wool.
Is Dry Skin A Sign Of An Underlying Health Condition?
Dry skin, under normal circumstances, doesn’t pose a serious health risk. It can, however, produce a serious complication if left unchecked. Conditions such as bleeding from fissures, red patches (chronic eczema), and secondary bacterial infection may surface due to dry skin. Antibiotics may be required to treat the bacterial infection. Unlike popular belief, dry skin isn’t a sign of an allergy.