If you live in or around Chester you would know that temperatures have been hovering below freezing, causing us to raise the heat and blast the furnace. Dry air from heating devices coupled with the low humidity of the winter months can cause the skin to become dry. Dry skin or “xerosis” can leave the skin flakey, dull in appearance, itchy, and inflamed. The skin can become so dry that it may even develop fissures (cracks), and it may even keep people up at night from itching.
To help prevent dry skin, here are some helpful hints to keeping your skin moisturized and vibrant during the winter months.
1. The best way to prevent dry skin is to keep skin moisturized:
– Immediately after showering or hand washing apply a moisturizer such as a lotion or cream to lock in moisture.
– Look for lotions containing “humectants,” a class of substances (including glycerine, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) that attract moisture to your skin.
– For extra dry skin one can use a barrier repair lotion first (such as Cerave or Cetaphil for atopic skin – these moisturizers contain ceramides) and then applying an ointment or a product with higher oil content afterwards such as Aquaphor.
2. Humidifiers may help to add moisture to the air and help prevent dryness.
3. Avoid hot long showers; instead try luke warm water for shorter durations. Overuse use of soaps and bath foams, too much scrubbing and washing, and excessive water exposure damage the outer layer of skin (the stratum corneum) and reduce water retention.
4. Avoid harsh soaps. Try using creamy moisturizing cleansers or gentle cleansers/ soap substitutes such as Cetaphil.
5. Avoid rubbing and scratching your skin. Instead, try an anti-itch lotion such as Sarna, copious moisturizers (emollients), and cool compresses to sooth your skin if it becomes pruritic (itchy).
6. Stay adequately hydrated.
7. Last but not least do not forget a sunscreen. The winter sun and snow glare can still damage your skin.
Do not hesitate to call our office with any questions or concerns regarding dry skin or any other skin issues or to make an appointment for a personalized skin regimen.
Azalesha Abrahim, PA-C
Jay D. Geller, MD