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How to Combat the Dry, Itchy Skin Caused by Winter Weather

woman blowing snow off gloves

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If winter is so hard on your skin that you are contemplating a move to an area with warm temperatures year round, take heart. These tips can help you cope with the uncomfortable dryness that winter weather can bring.

Combat winter dry skin with the right moisturizer

Just because a moisturizer works for you in the warm months doesn’t mean it will work for you when the season changes. Look for a moisturizer that is more like an ointment and that is oil-based, versus a water-based type moisturizer that is very thin. The oil in an oil-based moisturizer will serve as a barrier between your skin and the weather. It will also help your skin retain more moisture. Look for oil based products that say ‘non-clogging’ so your pores do not become clogged. Almost all night-time moisturizers are oil based, so these will generally work well for daily use.

Avoid certain cleansing products

Avoid peels, masks and skin care products that have alcohol bases in them. This will only pull out the moisture that is in your skin. Instead, opt for mild foaming cleansers, or milk based cleansers, in the winter. For masks and peels, opt for ones that are labeled ‘hydrating’. These will generally not have a clay base.

Use sunscreen even in the winter

While the sun may not be beating down, the glare from winter sun and snow can harm your skin. Use sunscreen on your face and hands when you are outside in the winter. Reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours if you are doing something that is keeping your outdoors for a while such as skiing, sledding, shoveling snow, or other winter activities.

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Consider using gloves

To keep your hands from becoming red and dry, wear gloves whenever you are outside. Many people do not know that the skin on the hands is much thinner than skin on the other parts of the body. Because of this thinness, hands are very susceptible to chapping, itching, cracking, and redness. Wear gloves to protect your precious hand skin from the elements.

Humidifier can relieve dry skin

Even if you stay indoors all winter, your skin can become dry from heating systems. Keep moisture in your air by plugging in a humidifier. You should keep one in your sleeping area, as well as your main living area such as the den or living room. Keeping the air moist in your home can also cut down on dry nasal massages and cracked lips.

Drink more water to combat dry skin

To keep your skin hydrated properly, your body will need to be properly hydrated. While it is impossible to know how much water a person is drinking by their skin alone, not drinking enough water is bad for your overall health—including your skin.

When your feet are affected by dry winter weather

Just like you need to change your moisturizer in the winter, you should take a look at the type of foot moisturizer you are applying in the cold months. Feet need strong stuff to stand up to the rigors of cold weather. Look for ointments and lotions that contain glycerine or petroleum jelly.

You should also exfoliate your feet weekly. This will help your feet soak in the moisturizer you do put on them. For added moisture, exfoliate your feet, slather them in moisturizer, and then wrap them in plastic wrap. Then, put on socks. Wear the plastic wrap and socks overnight, or for a few hours. Your feet will thank you.

Avoid hot baths and showers

While it may feel good to soak in a steamy hot bath or to stand under a hot shower in the winter, do your skin a favor and avoid the overly hot water. Hot water can damage your skin and it breaks down the skin’s ability to hold moisture. Opt for luke-warm baths and showers instead. If you have itchy, dry skin, add baking soda or oatmeal to your bath water.

Extra tips for dry winter skin

Avoid licking your lips in the winter, as this will only make dry, cracked lips worse. Use an ointment based lip moisturizer or balm on your lips. Not only will the ointment protect your lips from the cold air, it will medicate and soothe your lips.

Take off wet gloves and wet socks and shoes as soon as possible. Keeping these cold things directly on your skin will only damage your skin.

If you are still having problems with your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist. There are many prescription lotions and ointments available that can rescue your skin from the harsh elements of winter.

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