How to Get Rid of Dry Skin in the Winter
In addition to the year-round risk of sun damage, winter brings an increase in dry, itchy, flaky skin due to lower temperatures and humidity levels. This is especially true if you live in a very cold climate or spend a lot of time inside buildings warmed with central heating units. Fortunately, making just a few small changes to your daily routine can help you get rid of dry skin in the winter and protect it against sunburn, windburn and premature aging.
Choose your skin care products carefully. Many after-shaves, lotions and colognes contain alcohol that may increase dryness and irritation during the winter, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you notice an increase in burning, flaking or itching after using these products, look for an alternative to use during the winter months.
Take short baths or showers no more than once each day. The University of Iowa recommends bathing in warm water and using soap only when necessary to avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils.
Exfoliate once or twice each week to remove dead skin cells and improve your skin's ability to absorb moisturizers. Women may need to exfoliate more frequently than men, as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery states that the shaving process exfoliates a man's facial skin.
Dry your skin gently after bathing. Rubbing your skin will increase dryness and irritation and reduce the effectiveness of moisturizers.
Apply moisturizer within three minutes of stepping out of the shower or bath. Use an oil-based moisturizing ointment if you suffer from very dry skin. Oil-based moisturizers are better at sealing water in the stratum corneum layer of your skin, according to the University of Iowa, and are therefore more beneficial to severely dry or cracked skin.
Use moisturizer during the day, as needed. Areas exposed to the cold, dry air of winter, such as the face and hands, may require moisturizing every few hours to prevent and treat dryness, flaking and itching.
Run a humidifier indoors to increase the humidity level in your home and office. Central heating systems are very drying and can worsen winter skin problems. The AOCD suggests keeping the humidity level in your home and office around 50 percent.
Wear sunscreen on all exposed areas of your body every time you leave the house. Sunburn and sun damage are possible during the winter, even when the sky is cloudy. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, or AOCD, recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
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