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Relieving Dry Skin This Winter

By Angela Fracassa, JTM Public Affairs

Relieving Dry Skin This Winter

The cold weather has arrived, and our skin has begun to feel the effects. Due to the cold and low humidity levels, we are left with dry, irritated skin. But the problem is more than cosmetic; there are dangerous health risks that are associated with dry skin. As the skin dries it becomes more susceptible to cracking, which in turn creates an entryway for germs into the body. To avoid exposure to infections and other diseases, it is important to take care of your skin throughout these winter months. Here are some tips to help your skin feel healthier and better protected.

  • Beware of what you wear: Wool is a very common and warm fabric worn throughout the winter. If you are suffering from dry skin, it's best to avoid this itchy fabric, which can irritate the skin even further. Your best option is to wear breathable fabrics such as cotton. The detergents you use on your clothing can also affect your skin. Avoid using fabric softeners, and choose a detergent that is labeled fragrance-free.
  • Protect your hands: Wear gloves when outdoors to avoid exposure to the cold temperatures. Gloves shouldn't just be worn outdoors; you should also wear them while cleaning, especially when washing dishes. The more you wet your hands, the more inclined they are to crack and/or dry out.

*A particular group who are very prone to dry skin are those working in the healthcare field. According to the CDC, healthcare workers clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift. This, in addition to the harsh winter weather, can leave hands very damaged.

  • Eliminate hot showers: Everyone enjoys taking hot showers especially in the winter months However, hot water can dry out the skin. Reduce your shower time, and use lukewarm water. Altering your showering habits will prevent your skin from being stripped of its natural oils.
  • Hydrate: Drinking cold water can be more difficult during the winter. However, if your body is dehydrated, the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis will dry out. Increase your water intake by adding foods to your diet that are high in water content. Cucumbers, celery, broccoli, strawberries and grapefruit all contain water content above 90 %. If you have trouble drinking cold water during the winter months, try warming a cup of water and adding lemon. Aside from helping you hydrate, it holds many health benefits including aiding in digestion and flushing out toxins from the body.
  • Moisturize: Apply a moisturizer immediately after showering. This will be most beneficial for your skin, because it will lock in the dampness. When choosing a product, use an oil-based moisturizer as opposed to a cream or lotion which is mostly made up of water and wax; ingredients that will not be as effective in repairing dry skin. The oil-based moisturizers help to reduce water loss by locking in your skin's natural moisture. Finally, don't forget about your lips, as they can easily become cracked and chapped without the protection of a moisturizing lip balm.
  • You are what you eat: Your diet plays an am important role in keeping your skin healthy. Omega 3-fatty acids can help keep your skin full of moisture. Consume foods rich in Omega 3 such as salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Another beneficial nutrient is Vitamin C. Although many people take vitamin C in the winter to help boost their immune systems, it can also protect our skin. Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen in the body, which gives our skin the elasticity it needs. Consume fresh fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, broccoli, and collard greens.

"Those folks with Eczema and other chronic skin conditions will also notice a flare during this season. It's especially important that they are compliant with their regimens," stated Dr. Christine Fruth, DO from Mather Primary Care in Port Jefferson, NY.

Here are a few non-traditional dry skin remedies found in your home that can help to protect your skin during these winter months.

  • Coconut oil: Applying this oil directly to your skin will help exfoliate the outer layer of skin cells.
  • Honey: One of the best natural moisturizers, honey, helps your skin lock in moisture. Apply to your skin and leave on for 10 minutes before you shower.
  • Oatmeal: This diet staple can be applied to your skin. Whether you use it in a bath, or applied to your skin as a face mask, the oatmeal creates a protective barrier on your skin, helping to prevent water loss.


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