Think for a moment about what happens to your skin during the winter months, when the weather turns cold and humidity levels drop. Moisture escapes more easily, because even the protective oils are no match for below freezing temperatures. And when there’s not enough water on the outer layer of your skin, it becomes dry. Before you know, you are dealing with itchy skin, dry skin, even flaky skin.
It’s also the time of year when everyone is washing their hands more, because of flu and colds. Overuse of soap and water just adds to the problem of dry skin.
Most of us cope with dry skin to a point, but if left untreated, there are various health issues:
- When skin becomes so dry it cracks, you now are at risk of picking up infections
- Itchy skin can lead to scratching, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the body
- Skin that is dry looks less plump, making us look older!
Watch those UV Rays
The sun’s rays are just as harmful in winter. In fact, up to 80% of UV rays are reflected on the snow. Therefore, your skin is not only exposed to the UV rays from the sky, but also to those reflected on the ground. This is even true during cloudy days, since a large portion of UV rays get through the clouds.
How to Protect and Heal
Use less hot water – Water makes dry skin worse, especially if you use hot, soapy water and too much washing can strip the protective oils from your skin. Keep your baths and showers short — 10 minutes or less — and use warm water rather than hot.
Use minimal soap – Using too much soap or hand sanitizers too often also causes your skin to dry out. Use soap and hand sanitizers sparingly. Only apply soap when and where you need it, such as under your arms, and on your feet. Choose mild, fragrance-free options that are designed to be less drying.
Moisturize – Skin moisturizers are important weapons in fighting dry skin. The right moisturizers can help you treat and prevent dry skin. There are three basic types.
- Ointment moisturizers trap the most moisture in your skin, but sometimes they can feel greasy. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is an example.
- Oil moisturizers tend to be less greasy than ointments, but they’re still effective at fighting dry skin. Examples include baby oil, mineral oil, and bath oil.
- Cream moisturizers like body butters absorb nicely and are best for your face. They can be chosen according to your specific needs.
Moisturizing right after washing can help you trap as much moisture as possible in your skin. After you wash your skin, pat it dry. Then apply your ointment, oil, or cream right away.
- Finger and toe nails can get very dry and brittle during the winter.
- Use cuticle oil at night, dropped at the base of each nail.
- Wear gloves or mitts!
- For a deep treatment, cover hands in your favourite hand cream, and wear cotton gloves overnight.