Winter in Minnesota means lots of cold, dry air which reeks havoc on your skin. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack, and even bleed and without a change in your skin care, dry air can even make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.To help heal and prevent dry skin follow these few simple steps as provided by the American Academy of Dermatology.
1. Prevent baths and showers from making dry skin worse.
- Close the bathroom door
- Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes
- Use warm rather than hot water
- Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
- Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but avoid using so much that you see a thick lather
- Blot your skin gently dry with a towel
- Slather on the moisturizer immediately after drying your skin
2. Apply moisturizer immediately after washing. Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. To trap this much-needed moisture, you need to apply a moisturizer within few minutes of drying your hands or body. We like to recommend Cetaphil and CeraVe as good everyday moisturizers for all of our patients.
3. Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Avoid scented products that can increase skin irritation. Shea butter and coconut oil also work well.
4. Wear lip balm. Choose a lip balm that feels good on your lips. Some healing lip balms can irritate your lips if they are scented. If you experience any tingling sensation, do not use the lip balm. We like to recommend Aquaphor to all of our patients.
5. Use only gentle, unscented skin care products. Some skin care products are too harsh for dry, sensitive skin. When your skin is dry, stop using:
- Deodorant soaps
- Skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA)
6. Wear gloves. Our hands are often the first place we notice dry skin. You can reduce dry, raw skin by wearing gloves. Be sure to put gloves on before you:
- Go outdoors in winter
- Perform tasks that require you to get your hands wet
- Get chemicals, greases, and other substances on your hands
7. Choose non-irritating clothes and laundry detergent. When our skin is dry even clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating. To avoid this:
- Wear cotton or silk under your clothing made of wool or another material that feels rough
- Use laundry detergent labeled “hypoallergenic”
8. Stay warm without cozying up to a fireplace or other heat source. Sitting in front of an open flame or other heat source can dry your skin.
9. Add moisture to the air. Plug in a humidifier. If you can check your home heating system, find out if you have a humidifier on the system — and whether it’s working. Central heating actually blasts hot dry air throughout your home.
Your skin should start to feel better quickly. If these changes do not bring relief, you may want to contact the clinic. Very dry skin can require a prescription ointment or cream. Dry skin also can be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment. A dermatologist can examine your skin and explain what can help reduce your discomfort.