7 Tips to Beat the Winter Itch

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Ever wonder why your skin feels dry, itchy and flaky in the winter? The cold, bitter air outside coupled with the hot, dry inside air makes for a bad combination for your skin. And while the natural instinct is to stay warm with hot showers or sitting near a crackling fire, these practices among others facilitate loss of water from the skin through evaporation into the dry air. So how can your skin keep that smooth summer feel? Follow these simple tips to keep the skin healthy, happy, and hydrated.

  1. Take short, warm showers. Everyone loves a long, hot, steaming shower to warm you up from the cool temperatures outside, but try to resist the temptation! Limit shower or bath time to 5 minutes using warm rather than hot water.
  2. Quick, bring on the moisturizer! Immediately after bathing, pat the skin with a towel but don’t dry yourself off completely. Applying a moisturizer to damp skin works to trap existing moisture in your skin. Ideally, this should be done within 2-3 minutes of drying off after a shower or washing your face.
  3. For the body and hands, the thicker the better. When choosing a moisturizer for the body and hands, ointments and creams are far better at hydrating the skin than lotions. Look for ingredients that really help to soothe the skin and are effective at removing the dried skin scales including lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum (for more information, see my blog on what makes a moisturizer). Moisturizers for the face, don’t need to be as thick as for the body. For your face, use a water-based lotion. They are lighter and less likely to plug pores that can lead to acne.
  4. Gentle exfoliation can be helpful to remove the dried, dead skin cells. Exfoliating brushes such as the Clarisonic are useful tools to aid in this cleanup.
  5. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Snow and ice reflect harmful ultraviolet rays more than sand on a beach.  This contributes to accelerated signs of aging and increases your risk of skin cancer. Look for facial moisturizing lotions with sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher – especially if you’re outside or driving in the sun for any length of time.
  1. Add moisture to the air. You may have a humidifier attached to your home heating system, but if not, plug in a portable humidifier.
  2. Avoid harsh skin care products. Try to find all gentle, unscented skin care products including soaps, moisturizers, and laundry detergents. Some skin care products are too irritating for dry, sensitive skin and strip the skin of its natural oils. When your skin is dry, stop using deodorant soaps, skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), and scented laundry detergents.

If your skin is still dry despite these changes, you may need a prescription cream or ointment. Call us at 313-884-5100 to schedule an appointment.

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