General Medical · Health

Medical Monday: Top 10 Tips for Winter Skin Health

5. Hands

The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer sebaceous oil glands. That means it is harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. Dryness can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first to avoid any irritation the wool may cause.

6. Feet

Your feet are especially vulnerable in cold weather, drying out and forming calluses. To remove calluses and increase skin hydration, try soaking your feet in warm water with oil for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a pumice stone or chemical exfoliation (urea, lactic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid) to remove the dead skin. Apply moisturizer immediately after. Exfoliation helps any moisturizer you use to sink in faster and deeper. Don’t forget to protect your feet by wearing cotton socks.

7. Lips

Like the skin on the hands, the skin on the lips is super-thin and doesn’t have a lot of oil glands, so lips tend to dry out and crack in the winter. To prevent lips from peeling, exfoliate gently with a washcloth or soft toothbrush and then apply a hydrating lip balm with oil- or petrolatum-based moisturizers like Vaseline or Aquaphor. Apply a lip balm with SPF to both lips all year round. Avoid products with fragrance and scent.

Dr. Reszko’s Tip: Do not forget to cover your lips with a thick lip balm before going to sleep. Mouth breathing at night exacerbates daytime lip dryness and chapping. A thick layer of emollient will also protect your lips and face from excessive salivation. Drooling may cause irritation and subsequent inflammation of the skin and may lead to yeast colonization, a medical condition called perleche.

8. Invest In a Humidifier

Heating systems blow hot, dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers replenish the air’s moisture, preventing your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home so they help disperse the moisture more evenly. A humidifier in the bedroom is an absolute must!

9. Ban Super-Hot Showers/Baths

Love long, hot showers? So do I! Nothing feels better on a cold winter day than a hot bath. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers of the skin, which in turn increases moisture loss.

A lukewarm bath with oils or oatmeal can help relieve skin that is so dry that it has become inflamed and itchy. Never rub skin; dab dry with a towel and put on a moisturizer with humectants and/or ceramides the moment you step out of the bath/shower to seal in the moisture.

In the winter months, switch to a moisturizing soap, and use less of it. Avoid scented body wash (it’s too drying) and go for fragrance-free moisturizing bars instead.

 10. When Dry Skin Is More Than Dry Skin

If all fails, see your dermatologist. You might require prescription-strength cortisone to combat the cycle of skin inflammation. Inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis might mimic dry skin and require proper dermatologic evaluation and prescription medications.


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  • Ann March 2, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Great review! I wish it was published 2 months ago!