Dry Skin Woes
Are your skin feeling dry and tight — even itchy or flaky? Any number of causes can strip your skin of its protective oils. The result: Everything from chapped lips and itchy skin to cracked heels. Relief is in your grasp.
Use this pictorial guide to see top cold-weather threats to your skin and what you can do about them.
SOS for Chapped Lips
No one is immune from dry lips in winter! Here’s how to cope: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and use a humidifier at home. Liberally apply beeswax or petroleum jelly to your lips. Put on lip balm or lipstick with sunscreen every time you go outside.
Avoid being in the sun and wind too much. Don’t lick your lips — it may feel better briefly, but it only makes chapped lips worse.
Heal Cracked Heels
Painful, cracked heels are a common skin condition, especially in winter. They are often caused by dry skin. Having calluses around the rim of the heel can complicate the problem. In some cases, dry cracked feet can lead to infection or make walking painful.
Keep feet healthy by marinating cracked heels in petroleum jelly, covering them with plastic wrap, and putting on a pair of socks overnight. You should observe improvement in a few days.
Give Dry Hands Extra Care
Your hands may be hard hit by the cold winter air. Washing your hands frequently helps eliminate cold and flu germs, but it also increases dryness. And unless you wear gloves every time you go out, hands may be more exposed to cold than other parts of your body.
Give dry hands some extra TLC by using a glycerine-based moisturiser when you wake up, before you go to bed, and any time your hands feel dry throughout the day.
Use Super-Fatted Soap
The same products that keep your face looking fresh in the spring and summer may cause skin problems during winter. Choose a gentle, super-fatted, fragrance-free soap — bar or liquid — for cleansing. Super-fatted means the soap is loaded with oils. Use a non-astringent toner, or just skip it altogether.
If your skin is dry, moisturisers that contain urea, dimethicone, glycerine, lanolin, or mineral oil can be good bets.
Choose a Winter Moisturiser
Should you change your moisturiser? Maybe. If you usually use a light lotion, try a heavier cream, at least on dry skin patches. Ointments — like petroleum jelly — have more oil than creams or lotions. That makes them more greasy, too, so they may be best for feet and body.
Minimize the greasy feeling by using a very small amount and gently but thoroughly rubbing it into skin. Apply after a warm shower.
Decode Moisturizer Choices
Humectants – like urea, glycerine, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol – absorb water from the air. They are oil-free. Emollients – like baby or mineral oil, plant oils (like jojoba oil), petroleum jelly, lanolin, stearic acid — help replace oils in the skin. Many moisturizers contain a combination.
You may want to skip some anti-ageing moisturisers in winter. Those that contain retinoids can further irritate and dry, sensitive skin.
Clear Away Dead Skin First
To get the most out of your moisturiser, exfoliate. Clearing away dead skin cells lets a moisturiser better penetrate dry skin. Exfoliate gently with a moisturizer that contains lactic acid or salicylic acid. Some exfoliants can be irritating – especially in winter – so try them on a small patch of skin first.
If your skin is really dry or irritated, ask your doctor before starting a new skin care product or regimen.
A shower can add water to your skin – as long as you keep it short and sweet. Long, hot showers can actually draw water from your skin. Appealing as a hot shower on a cold morning may be, lukewarm water is a better choice. It won’t strip away your natural oils.
Lock in Moisture after Your Bath
Right after you step out of the tub, pat skin dry and apply moisturiser to retain the water your skin just absorbed. A glycerine- or hyaluronic acid-based moisturiser can increase the amount of water that’s drawn into your skin. Baby oil (mineral oil) is also a good choice, because it prevents water from evaporating from your skin.
Don’t stop there: Liberally re-apply moisturiser throughout the day, especially to troublesome dry skin patches.
Plug in a Humidifier
It’s cold outside! So you’re staying inside, with the heat on. That warm, dry air can mean parched, dry skin. Use a humidifier to restore moisture to the air. You can find inexpensive models at most pharmacies. Put one in your bedroom; better yet, invest in two or three and place them strategically around your home to stave off irritated, itchy skin this winter.
Lube Your Locks
Protect your hair this winter by shampooing every other day instead of daily. Shampoos and excess shampooing can strip hair of moisture. Use warm water and a mild shampoo with sunscreen. Apply extra conditioner to keep your hair hydrated, shiny, and soft. Don’t overstyle with the blow dryer or flat iron. And protect your hair from the elements by wearing a hat.
Winter Sunscreen Required
Think you can’t get sunburn in winter? Wrong. Skiers and other winter athletes are at greater risk of sunburn because snow reflects sunlight. In fact, it bounces 80% of the sun’s rays back to us, compared to less than 20% from sand and surf. Even if you’re not hitting the slopes, you still need the protection of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
Apply daily, and reapply at least every two hours if you’re outside.
Bundle Up Against Frostnip
Frostnip – a mild form of frostbite – tends to affect the earlobes, cheeks, nose, fingers, and toes. Signs of frostnip include pale skin, numbness, or tingling in the affected area. Avoid frostnip by dressing warmly — including hat, ear muffs, and gloves. The best treatment is to re-warm the affected areas; although frost-nip is uncomfortable, it doesn’t cause any damage to your skin.
Beat the Itch of Winter Skin
Dry winter skin can be incredibly itchy. Beat itchy skin by taking a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, reapplying your moisturizer frequently, and steering clear of wool and other rough fabrics. You may have an underlying condition such as eczema or psoriasis that requires different treatment.
Show Eczema the Exit
Eczema is an umbrella term for different kinds of skin inflammation. It is marked by dry, reddened skin that itches or burns. When skin becomes dry and irritated in winter, eczema can flare. Stay one step ahead by moisturizing frequently with an oil-based ointment that contains sunscreen.
Sweating and overheating can also trigger the itch/scratch cycle, so dress in easy-to-peel-off layers.
Put Psoriasis in its Place
Psoriasis is more than dry skin. It’s caused when the immune system misfires and speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. Dry air, lack of sunlight, and colder temperatures can make psoriasis worse. Follow tips for dry skin: short, lukewarm showers, lots of moisturiser, and humidifiers throughout the house.
If you have problems with Eczema or Psoriasis, the best advice is to use a very good probiotic to reinstate healthy gut bacteria, because most skin conditions can be linked back to damaged or malfunctioned gut bacteria. The Manna GUT Support was especially formulated to help reinstate healthy bacteria, but also essential digestive enzymes. The product also contains colostrum, which is essential for gut health.