Exposed: Get Tips for Winterproofing to Prevent Dry Skin

Winter woes are hard to beat, but doesn’t a nice, long hot bath sound nice? It might be a cold weather cure, but it definitely has its down side — its itchy and scratchy side.

Skin care is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, even when you figure out what type of skin care works for you, it can still change when the humidity drops. Without a change in your skin care, dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack and even bleed.

To help prevent dry skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you limit your baths and showers to 5 to 10 minutes. It can help add moisture to the skin. Ironically, longer baths or showers can leave your skin less hydrated than before you started. Don’t bathe more than once a day and use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.

When it’s time to towel down, avoid dry skin by practicing a light pat, not a rub down, with a soft towel. Before your skin is completely dry, slather on that moisturizer! Choose creams, ointments or oils instead of lotions, which contain alcohol. Moisturize throughout the day to keep your skin from drying out.

Let’s talk moisturizer. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum.

What else can you do to winterproof your skin?  

  • Relief to go. Hands can be the first place to see dry skin. Consider carrying a non-greasy hand cream with you and apply it after each hand washing.
  • Wear gloves. You can reduce raw, dry skin by wearing gloves when you go outside.
  • It’s a wash. Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
  • Smooth as silk. Wear cotton or silk under clothing made of wool or other material that feels rough.
  • Our lips are sealed. Keep your kisser healthy and soft! Your lips shouldn’t sting or tingle after you apply the lip balm, so if you experience this reaction, make a switch to a different balm.
  • Drink it in. Dry skin could also be a sign that your body is dehydrated. Stay hydrated by drinking water and eating water-rich fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeine and alcohol; they tend to dehydrate you.
  • In the air. Plug in a humidifier and set it to 50-60% to add more moisture to the air.
  • Soft shave. Shave right after bathing, when hairs are soft. To lessen the irritating effects of shaving your face or legs, use a shaving cream or gel. Leave the product on your skin about 3 minutes before starting to shave. Shave in the direction that the hair grows.
  • Resist the itch. Don’t scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.

If your dry skin seems out of the norm, keep in mind that it could also be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

How do you winterize your skin?

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; Harvard Health