How to Help Your Dry Winter Skin

Winter skin just doesn’t retain moisture like we need it to!  Due to frequent bathing or washing, harsh soaps, outdoor conditions and sometimes underlying medical conditions, this can become a big problem for many. 

The epidermis (outer layer of skin) typically holds a similar humidity to the atmosphere around us.  In wintertime, the humidity is low both indoors and outdoors!

Fortunately, there are many simple things you can do to protect your largest organ, the skin! If you think of your skin as a collection of shingles or tiles glued together magically and perfectly put together to protect what’s underneath, it will help you understand why skin care is just so incredibly important! 

The glue is loosened and water loss in the skin is accelerated by a dry environment, scrubbing, frequent washing, using harsh chemicals, sun exposure and aging.  You can be left with rough, itching, flaking, cracking and burning skin.  This could even lead to infection!

Moisturizers, which rehydrate the epidermis (outer layer) will seal in any moisture that is there and this is the first step in combating dry skin.  They typically contain 1 or more of 3 main ingredients; humectants which attract water (ie ceramides, hyaluronic acid, lecithin, glycerin and sorbitol), Petroleum (Vaseline), silicone or lanolin help seal in the moisture, and finally emollients like linoleic acids which actually fill in the gaps and spaces between cells offering a smoother, less rough texture. 

Generally speaking, the thicker and greasier the moisturizer is, the more effective it will be!  They are best to use while the skin is still a little damp, immediately after a bath or shower.  Lotions that contain water, might be more appealing, less greasy and lighter weight but they will not offer as much of a solution for that winter dry skin.

Dry Skin Looks Older

Dry skin is much more common with age, in fact over 75% of patients over the age of 65 struggle with it.  The skin just cannot retain much moisture anymore.

Natural oil production in the skin slows with age, especially in post-menopausal women due to a shift in hormones.  Dry skin itself is not a serious health condition but can lead to one. 

You can develop eczema (red itchy patches), or bleeding from cracks in the skin that could eventually get infected, and you could also be dealing with an allergy to something you have come in contact with.  Be sure to consult with your Amaze provider to make sure you’re not missing something. 

If it is determined that you are just dealing with normal dry skin, here are some easy things you can do to help:

  • Use a humidifier!  It is recommended to use a cool mist humidifier and if it has settings, set it to 60% humidity which should be sufficient to keep the epidermis happy.
  • Limit yourself to 5-10 minutes in the shower and use lukewarm or warm water, not hot which will wash away natural oils!
  • Minimize the use of soaps, but if you must then use soap free cleansers from Cetaphil, Vanicream, Cera Ve.
  • No fragrance or deodorant soaps, alcohol based products, which also strip away natural oils.
  • Don’t traumatize the skin with use of sponges, scrub brushes, washcloths, etc.  If you are going to use them, use a light touch. 
  • Pat dry with the towel when you get out of the shower or bath.  No rubbing.
  • Use your moisturizers immediately after bathing to lock in that moisture!
  • Try your best not to scratch.  Cold packs or moisturizers usually help to cure the itch.
  • Use SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN yes even in winter to prevent photoaging.
  • When shaving, use a gel or cream and leave it on for a few minutes before you shave.
  • Detergents should be fragrance free.
  • Avoid wearing wool or other fabrics that irritate the skin.

Getting a dermatologist appointment can sometimes take weeks or months to get in. Your Amaze account gives you direct access to providers who can assess your skin issues and help determine the best course of action. If you are concerned about a skin or medical issue, give us a call. No appointment needed.