(StatePoint) Cool temperatures, low humidity, and furnace-blasted dry air can leave your skin dry, flaky, and itchy. Everyone needs to protect his or her skin from drying out in winter, but if you have certain skin conditions, you should step up your routine to keep your skin healthy.
“Winter itch is a common name for the skin symptom of generalized itching in winter. While most commonly seen in the elderly and those with a history of asthma, allergies and eczema, anyone can experience winter itch,” says Dr. Vishakha Gigler, a board certified dermatologist.
With that in mind, here are a few steps everyone can take to prevent and relieve dry itchy skin in wintry weather:
• Avoid irritants
Try to avoid products that can irritate your skin, such as fragrance, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners. Use a hypoallergenic laundry detergent and wear soft fabrics such as cotton.
• Add humidity to your home and office. Portable humidifiers or those that work with your heating system put moisture into the air that will be absorbed naturally by your skin and hair.
• Wear sunscreen
Sunscreen may make you think of the beach, but it’s important in winter, too. Apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to exposed areas to protect from the sun’s harmful UV rays before heading outdoors. Look for sunscreens with hyaluronic acid in them.
• Moisturize after showering
The most important thing with regards to bathing is your follow-up routine. Pat your skin dry with a towel and then apply a thick moisturizer. Apply in the morning and at night.
• Alleviate winter itch
To alleviate itch safely and effectively, toss a topical treatment into your bag for the day. A topical non steroid-based treatment providing fast itch relief is best, and will help you avoid side effects like skin thinning, stretch marks, increased bruising and enlarged blood vessels. For example, TriCalm is a steroid free, fast acting itch relief gel that is five times more effective than steroid-based hydrocortisone 1% at reducing itch. More information can be found at www.tricalm.com.
• Protect against windburn. When heading outside on cold days, avoid windburn and prolonged exposure by wearing a hat, scarf, and gloves.
• Eat right. Stock up on foods with lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados. These foods promote good skin health.
• Hand care. The skin on your hands is thinner than most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
This winter, avoid and relieve dry skin. With the proper skin care regimen, you will keep your skin smooth, healthy and itch-free.