Beat Dry Skin with These 6 Easy Tips!
Now that the weather’s cooling off, if you live in a cold climate you may be thinking about winterizing your pipes, your car, your garden… and your skin??
Dry itchy skin (xerosis cutis) is a common reason for visit in a dermatology clinic, especially here in Alaska. For the most part, dry skin is never going to hurt you or affect your overall health, but it can certainly be a nuisance.
There’s no magic bullet, but here are some tips for dry, itchy, winter skin:
Moisturize! You may think I’m stating the obvious here, but I’m shocked at the number of patients who come in for complaints related to their dry skin, who aren’t using a moisturizer daily. There is no one brand of moisturizer that’s better than the others, but I do have one rule: your moisturizer needs to come in a tub or jar. I’m talking about the kind of moisturizer that you scoop out with your hand to apply. If you can pump your lotion out of a bottle, or squeeze it out of a tube, then it has too much alcohol in it to properly moisturize your skin.
Dial down the shower heat. This is the request that elicits the most groans from my patients. Everyone loves a hot shower! Unfortunately, that hot shower water (while it feels great on a cold winter day) is not doing nice things for your dry skin. Limit bath/shower time to 10 minutes, and go for lukewarm water instead of steaming hot. Pat dry afterwards and then moisturize.
Beware of soap. Most people use too much and too harsh of a soap. Avoid anything “antibacterial”, and anything with fragrances or dyes. Or, avoid soap altogether and just wash with water. Areas that tend to sweat/get dirty can be washed with gentle cleansers.
Watch what you wear. Layers of cotton clothing are best. Some synthetic fibers and scratchy wool can further irritate dry skin.
Stay out of the sun! Changes to collagen and other supporting structures in the skin from sun damage make it harder for skin to hold on to water.
Stay hydrated. While drinking more water won’t fix your dry skin if you’re not also moisturizing it, it’s never a bad idea.
And remember – always talk to your doctor. You may be dealing with eczema, or the dry skin may be caused by certain medications you are taking. Chronic medical problems like liver or kidney disease, thyroid issues, and diabetes are all associated with dry skin. Your doctor can help you decide what testing, if any, needs to be pursued, or what additional treatment options there are.