It happens every year. Temperatures drop, you turn up the heat and voila! dry skin symptoms return to wreak havoc. You’re probably all too familiar with the scaly skin, parched hands, foot calluses, and rough patches of eczema that plague your epidermis when humidity levels drop during cooler months. Banish irritation by following these five easy tips and tricks:
Ease up on the soap
Yes, you do probably do need to suds up your face, underarms, feet and groin areas on a daily basis to stay fresh. Your arms and legs? Not so much. Spare yourself a lot of itching by directly soaping your limbs only a couple of times a week. That’s because the skin on your arms and legs produces much less oil than skin in other oilier, sweatier areas. In between times, your limbs can get by on soapy run-off from the shampoo, body and facial cleansers you use while showering.
Moisturize hands frequently
If you’re like most people, you step up hand washing in the winter months to stave off cold and flu germs. But then you end up with hands that constantly look and feel dry. Using liquid hand sanitizer can make matters even worse. The trick is to keep a moisturizing cream right by the sink and apply it to damp skin after every hand wash. That’s the best way to lock in hydration. And look for moisturizers with ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, essential fatty acids, shea butter and steric acids for best results.
Prevent eczema from escalating
When dry areas of skin become rough and inflamed, it’s likely eczema. Itching can follow and in some cases, blistering. If you’ve had eczema before, it will likely revisit the same area when your skin gets dry again. Nip it in the bud by stepping up your hydration efforts. Select a tub or tube of thick moisturizing cream because those products are far more effective than the lighter lotions found in pump bottles. Look for ingredients like petrolatum and glycerin and apply it liberally at the first sign of dry skin. Avoid products with potentially drying ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid and retinol and of course, see a dermatologist for advanced cases that blister and bleed or don’t respond to basic at-home treatment.
Kick calluses to the curb
Maybe you’ve relegated sandals to the back of your closet and are stepping out more and more in boots. Feet that are encased in cold weather shoes all day increases the incidence of skin being rubbed repeatedly and unfortunately that can lead to callus formation. They’re not so much a symptom of dry skin but more a case of the skin thickening to protect itself. Beat calluses to the punch by first wearing boots or shoes that fit correctly and second, by using a moisturizing lotion with a high 15 or 20 percent glycolic acid content to help smooth down calluses that may develop.
Change with the seasons
Just as you switch out your wardrobe to greet the season, the cleansers you use could likely do with a change up as well. That product that worked so well in the spring and summer may simply be too drying for the fall and winter. Avoid cleansers that contain glycolic or salicylic acid – they can be too dehydrating. And if the skin on your face feels tight after washing twice a day, perhaps cut back to once a day right before bed to prevent unnecessary moisture loss.
After cleansing, pat – don’t rub – skin dry with a clean towel and don’t forget to moisturize! Remember – applying moisturizer to still damp skin helps lock in hydration.