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Dry Skin, Avoiding The Winter Itch

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Dry Skin, Avoiding The Winter Itch
January 01
13:53 2017

Article Highlights

  • Combination of the cold outdoors and indoor heat sources, causes moisture to leave the skin
  • As the skin dries out, all the little areas between the skin cells open up
  • Stay away from products that are fragranced, scented or have a lot of botanicals in them

As the temperatures go down, so does the moisture in our skin. It’s a common problem in the winter, as dry air leaves our skin feeling dry too. While moving to a warmer climate could solve your problems, finding the proper way to take care of and prevent dry skin will help you to better enjoy the cold months.

There are several causes of dry and cracked skin in the wintertime, according to Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto, who specified that a lack of humidity in the air plays the biggest role.

“The air is always trying to normalize itself. It will draw humidity out of anywhere it can, and one of the easiest sources is the skin in humans,” Dr. Carroll said. She explained that the combination of the cold outdoors and indoor heat sources, such as in the car, house and office, causes moisture to leave the skin. Dr. Carroll described the skin cells as the bricks to the skin. One of the factors that keeps these bricks together is called the “natural moisturizing” factor.

“There are also ceramides that you find in the skin. When your skin dries out, it’s like cracks in a pavement,” explained Dr. Carroll. “As the skin dries out, all the little areas between the skin cells open up, and the biological glue and the natural moisturizer that you have come out of the skin. That causes your skin to open up even more, and so it self-perpetuates.”

Dry skin can affect different parts of the body, ranging from the hands, arms, legs to even the buttocks. The skin can start feeling itchy and flakes may become visible. In those with darker skin, dry skin may give an “ashy tone” appearance. According to Dr. Carroll, while dry skin is more commonly seen in the older population, it can affect anyone of any age.

Dry Skin, Avoiding The Winter ItchDry Skin, Avoiding The Winter Itch

Dry Skin, Avoiding The Winter Itch

There are many ways dry skin can be not only relieved, but prevented as well. Dr. Carroll emphasized it is important to start preventing dry skin starting in October, especially if you are prone to it. While in the outdoors, staying covered and applying Vaseline to exposed areas such as the cheeks, helps protect the skin from the “harsh winter elements.” When at home, keeping a humidifier in the bedroom is the first step. Showers should be kept short since the hotter the water, the more water gets evaporated from the skin. After showering, Dr. Carroll recommended applying moisturizer right away. When it comes to moisturizers, there are various ingredients to look for. The key ingredient is ceramide.

“Ceramides help make the skin a better barrier. They help protect it from environmental factors, changes of season and other irritants. They bring back moisture level to the skin,” Dr. Carroll explained. Other helpful ingredients include: glycerin, petrolatum and dimethicone. Dr. Carroll advised to “stay away from products that are fragranced, scented or have a lot of botanicals in them, because dry skin is more susceptible to irritation, and many of these ingredients are very irritating.”

While some may ignore their dry skin, it’s important to take care of the issue right away. Letting dry skin be could lead to more serious problems such as eczema. The skin will become more itchy and red, and can become more prone to infection. This can only be treated by going to your physician and possibly having to take prescription products. Dry skin can be avoidable if the right precautions are taken, and as Dr. Carroll explained,

“it’s easier to prevent it than to fix it.”

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1 Comment

  1. elton frayne
    elton frayne August 31, 19:44

    Cream cream cream! 🙂

    Reply to this comment

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