The winter months are well known for being cold and flu season, where you are likely to see an increase in ads for over-the-counter medicines and overhear your coworkers debating myth versus fact when it comes to preventing and curing these illnesses. However, there are other winter ailments that can be just as troublesome, and one of the most difficult to heal is dry skin. If you have flaky, itchy skin that develops with the cold weather, there are a few steps you can take to soothe these symptoms and prevent them from returning.
1. Lower Your Home’s Thermostat
Running your home’s heater during cold weather can help you feel cozy, especially at night when the temperatures drop to their lowest. However, circulating warm air throughout your home for hours at a time could be contributing to your dry skin. If you live in an area with low humidity and little winter precipitation, these conditions could make the problem worse.
Lowering your home’s thermostat can help keep your skin healthy. During the day, open your home’s curtains during sunny weather to warm rooms naturally and check doors and windows to ensure you are not losing any heat due to drafts. Setting your thermostat to the low 70s can balance humidity levels and prevent dry skin.
2. Avoid Hot Showers
While hot showers can be therapeutic for both the mind and body, taking them too frequently may be drying out your skin. This can be especially problematic if you live in an area with hard water, as the minerals present can contribute to additional dryness. As a result, the more often you take hot showers, the more likely you will develop dry, flaky skin.
Fortunately, you do not have to change your showering habits completely to keep your skin healthy. Instead, lower the temperature of the water each time you bathe. Lukewarm water can cleanse your skin as effectively as hotter temperatures, and you may save a few pennies on heating costs as well.
3. Use the Right Kind of Lotion for Your Skin
Not all lotions are created equal, and some may only make your dryness issues worse. Cheaper brands contain dyes, fragrance, and added ingredients that may irritate sensitive skin. If you have experienced sensitivities with cosmetics and soaps in the past, it is wise to read the ingredient list of any lotion you consider using.
One effective tactic for finding the right lotion is to discuss your skin problems with a dermatologist. He or she can advise you about which ingredients to avoid, test you for allergies, and give you access to medicated or specialty lotions.
4. Have Sudden Skin Changes Evaluated
While dry, itchy skin can be common in the winter, sudden changes to your skin’s tone or texture may be signaling a larger problem. Excessively dry skin that cracks and bleeds could mean that you are severely dehydrated or that your body is trying to fight off a major infection or other illness, such as diabetes or cancer.
Your dermatologist can help find the source of your dry skin problems and offer solutions for treatment. For example, if he or she finds evidence of skin cancer, you may be able to undergo new diagnostic testing developed by companies chaired by professionals such as Dr. Harry Stylli. These new screening methods help physicians find cancerous cells more quickly than traditional testing and grade their growth so treatment can begin as soon as possible. While not all skin problems indicate cancer, proper testing can catch some illnesses early.
Dry winter skin causes itching, flaking, and irritation that can be both annoying and painful. However, there are a few ways to care for your skin to keep it hydrated and healthy, even in the coldest of weather.
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