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Winter Dry Skin

Winter Dry Skin Winter Dry Skin Winter Dry Skin

Overview

Extremes in temperature affect the broad surface of the epidermis, or top layer of your skin. When wind and low humidity combine with cold weather in winter, normal skin can become dry. People whose healthy skin never reacts to summer allergens may suddenly find themselves with "winter itch" when thermometers---and barometers---drop. Those with sensitive skin may cycle through chapping and rashes. Begin your winter skin care early, and you may not get the itch this year.

Conditions

Outdoor temperatures are near or below freezing. Indoor and outdoor humidity is low for extended periods of time. Sun glare off snow may be very high. Any or all of these factors can damage and dry out skin. First, your hands, face and lips may feel especially dried out. Red, painful chapping can result from sun or wind exposure. Exfoliation slows to a crawl.

Effects

Dirt lodges easily in cracked skin, threatening infection. Tiny lines and wrinkles appear, and in extreme instances, sensitive skin and fingernails crack. Further exposure of chapped, dry skin to the elements compounds the damage, making it more difficult to restore moisture levels. Dead skin cells layer the surface. A lack of exfoliation clogs pores and discourages cell renewal. Subjected to the same conditions over time without winter skin care, the skin will lose its ability to rejuvenate itself.

Treatment

Inflamed or sensitive skin conditions may subside within a few days with applications of calamine lotion or a dermatologist-prescribed antibacterial or antifungal cream. Dry, flaky skin should be cleansed and exfoliated, then moisturized with a heavily oil-based moisturizer or a noncomedogenic lotion if you have acne.

Prevention

Step up your moisturizing routine and wear non-scratchy materials next to sensitive skin in winter. Doctors at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) cite low humidity and high body sweat as causes of seasonal dry skin. Winter skin care should include using room humidifiers, layering your clothing and taking off layers that get sweaty or wet immediately. Moisturize with an SPF 30 block lotion on your face before going outside, and reapply sunscreen often if you are out in the snow, which reflects 80 percent of sunlight. The AAD calls this your best protection against contracting skin cancer. Avoiding sunburn also prevents dryness.

Considerations

Individuals with chronic skin conditions such as eczema need to take special precautions to prevent flare-ups. Winter skin care may include taking fewer baths and moisturizing more frequently. Protect cracked or sensitive skin on your hands with soft mittens or gloves. Exposing fewer skin areas, even while indoors, can help you maintain moisture levels and prevent chapping.

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