If you’ve ever lived through a good winter, you know the uncomfortable feeling of dry, tight skin. Sometimes your skin may not only feel dry, it may look dry, flaky, cracked, or even inflamed with eczema. For many, the low humidity of the cold winter months and the dry indoor heat can wreck havoc on their skin, especially on the hands, feet, and face.
Here are some tips to keep the skin on your body parts healthy and moist during the dry winter months, or anytime of the year.
Since the skin on your hands is generally thinner than the skin on other parts of your body, it has fewer oil glands. This makes it more difficult for them to stay moist. As a result, many people suffer from itchiness and cracking, especially around the knuckles.
What your skin is lacking is moisture. Find a moisturizing lotion or cream that works for you, and you’ll be able to enjoy good skin all year round. However, while one moisturizer may work fine for your skin in the spring and summer, it may not be strong enough to do its job in the winter. A better option may be an ointment that is oil-based instead of water-based. The oils in the moisturizer create a protective layer that keeps moisture in the skin. Often these lotions are labeled as “night creams.”
To protect your hands from the cold and dry air, wear gloves. Remember that while wool gloves may keep you warmer, the wool may aggravate dry skin. For warmth and soft skin, wear cotton gloves with wool gloves or mittens over them if necessary. You should also avoid wearing wet gloves as this can irritate your skin and lead to itchiness and even eczema.
Think sunscreen is only for the summer? Think again. Because while the temperature may be lower during the cold days, the winter sun can still damage your skin, especially when combined with the glare off the bright snow. Approximately 30 minutes before going outside, apply a moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater to any skin that is exposed to the sun like your face and hands.
When treating dry skin on your face, only use moisturizers that contain “non-clogging” oils such as mineral oil, avocado oil, almond oil, or primrose oil. Other oils can clog your pores and make your skin greasy.
If you have dry skin on your face, avoid using alcohol-based astringents or toners, harsh peels, or masks, which can all deplete your skin of vital oils. Better options are mild foaming cleansers, toners without alcohol, and hydrating masks. The less often you use these, the better.
Your feet are other body parts especially prone to dry skin in the winter. A lotion containing glycerin or petroleum jelly should do the trick. Try using exfoliants to remove the dead skin every once in a while. This will help the moisturizer to sink in and do its job.
If your shoes or socks ever become wet, remove them as soon as possible. Having wetness against your skin can irritate it.
When it comes to dry skin in the winter, running a humidifier or two in your home or office will replace the moisture in the air lost by the hot, dry heat. A second word of advice is to avoid long, hot baths or showers, which deplete your skin of its natural lipid barriers, causing a loss of moisture. If your skin is so dry that it itches, try a lukewarm bath with baking soda or oatmeal.
If these tips don’t help relieve your dry skin, you may need to see a dermatologist. Specializing in skin care, a dermatologist will be able to give you advice on helpful skin care products depending on your specific skin type. If necessary, a prescription lotion may be what you need.