Remedies For Dry, Itchy Winter Skin
For many of us, the winter months bring a chronic feeling of dry skin. While moisturizing is important, there are some other easy habits that can increase the skin’s natural moisture and prevent it from drying out. By following these tips, you can fight off dry winter skin in just a few minutes each day.
Take Shorter Showers
The most important activity that affects skin dryness is your shower. Though many of us love a long, hot shower after a day of walking around in the cold, experts say this habit can harm your skin’s natural barrier. Excessive exposure to hot water strips the skin of essential natural oils. Keep showers to no more than 10 minutes. Use warm rather than hot water.
Beware of Products That May Dry Your Skin Further
The products you use to wash your skin can also have an effect. Traditional soaps have an alkaline pH that can disrupt your skin’s naturally acidic surface and contribute to drying it out. To avoid this, try using a cleanser that is pH balanced to match your body’s slightly acidic nature or look for a gentle cleanser that will get rid of dirt without disturbing the skin. Try natural products such as Cheeky Maiden soaps which are 100% natural and made with ingredients such as goat’s milk, honey, and olive oil.
Once you’ve taken your shower or washed your face, then it’s time to moisturize. Make sure to pat skin dry rather than rub it with a towel. Apply lotion while your skin is still damp for the best chance at absorption. You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer. But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skincare routine. Find an "ointment" moisturizer that's oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. We like Blue Haven’s “Bee Happy” nourishing honey lotion made with natural ingredients like avocado oil, hemp seed oil, and Wildflower honey, and leaves your skin feeling soft without being greasy.
Give Your Hands a Hand
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Apply hand cream frequently throughout the day and wear gloves when you go outside.
Plug in a Humidifier
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture into the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.
Modify Your Diet
Winter might seem like more of a meat and potatoes kind of season, but supplementing your diet with more fish, particularly salmon and tuna, has been proven to help skin better maintain its moisture due to their high content of omega-3 fat.
Don’t Forget About SPF
No, sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun can still damage your skin and worsen the symptoms of already dry skin. Make sure your daily moisturizer contains SPF and remember to apply it to your skin regularly.
Take an Oatmeal Bath
Oatmeal is a natural way to lock in the body’s moisture, protect the skin, and soothe any irritation or itching. The kind you put in your bath water isn’t the same type you eat for breakfast. It’s called colloidal oatmeal, which means that it’s finely ground and will dissolve in the bath rather than floating or collecting at the bottom of the tub.
There are plenty of over the counter oatmeal bath products, but it’s simple to make your own.
To Make an Oatmeal Bath:
- Grind 1 cup of dry oatmeal in a blender or food processor until you have a fine powder
- Sprinkle oatmeal under warm running water as the tub fills
- Make sure the water is lukewarm, not hot
- Once the tub is full, run your hands over the bottom a few times to break up any clumps that have formed
- Soak for about 15-20 minutes.
- After the bath, gently pat yourself dry so your skin still feels damp.
- Immediately apply a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer
Be careful, the oatmeal may make the tub a bit more slippery than usual.
It is important to keep skin moisturized and to treat dry skin as soon as possible. If left untreated, dry skin can lead to redness, bleeding or infection. If environmental factors or aging is not the cause of dry skin, you may have an underlying skin condition and should go see a dermatologist as soon as possible. You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin, or you may have a condition that isn’t simply dry skin and that requires a different treatment.