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Winter Skin: Tips on Preventing the Dryness and Irritation

Nov 13, 2011 10:08PM ● Published by Arden Haley

This is the time of year where, for many of us, our favorite activity is curling up next to a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good novel. But, after a couple of hours, you begin to notice that your skin has become so dry it feels like the leather bottom of your moccasin slippers. Dry, itchy skin can be a chronic annoyance during the winter months—and winter begins right here.

Dryer air inside and out, plus curling up next to those warm fires, depletes skin of moisture. But making adjustments in three areas—hygiene, clothing, and food—can help to prevent dry skin and reduce its itchiness.


First, hygiene.
Taking a long soak in a tub full of hot, bubbly bathwater may sound wonderful on a cold day. However, too much hot, soapy water can remove moisture-retaining layer of oils from your skin. During the winter, it’s a good idea to take no more than one bath or shower a day in warm, not hot, water. Another effective technique is to switch from bar soap to a moisturizing liquid soap. And, of course, don’t forget to apply moisturizer. Greasier lotions do work better because they create a more effective barrier between the skin’s moisture and the dry air. Moreover, moisturizing is more effective if skin is exfoliated regularly. There’s no point in moisturizing dead skin cells. 

Second, clothing.
Wool sweaters, made from a wonderfully renewable resource, are probably the warmest, coziest articles of clothing to fight winter’s chill. But wool can be itchy if the fibers in the fabric rub against skin. And if the skin is already itchy from dryness, wool can certainly exacerbate the problem. The solution is simple: go ahead and wear that favorite wool sweater, but layer a lightweight long-sleeve cotton t-shirt underneath. 

In addition, pay attention to what you use to wash what your wear with. Clothes washed with powder detergents can also further irritate already irritated dry skin. Switching to a liquid detergent can reduce the irritation since liquid detergents leave less residue than powder. If the itch is still there, it’s also worth considering switching to a detergent without fragrance or dye since those can cause irritation as well. The same holds true for fragrance- and dye-free fabric softeners. .

Finally, food.
It may surprise you to know that making a few dietary changes can also help improve itchy, winter skin. Look for foods containing Omega 3 and 6 which help the skin make moisture retaining oils. Salmon and walnuts are among many food items containing Omega 3. Corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and cotton seed oils are great sources of Omega 6. 

Additionally, make sure to get plenty of Vitamins C, E, A, K and B complex since those help to promote skin health. Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad for you, so it’s necessary to still maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Also, drink plenty of noncarbonated liquids (juices, water) to stay hydrated.

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