How To Manage Winter Itch

With the sound of Jingle Bells in the air, the holiday season is a special time when we want to look and feel our best. But colder temperatures and low humidity can wreak havoc on your skin leaving it dry, flaky and itchy. This condition, called Winter itch, occurs because the cold dry air literally sucks the moisture out of the upper layers of your skin. In some people, the skin becomes so dry that it cracks causing painful splits and fissures. Winter itch is exacerbated by hot baths, harsh soaps and not using the proper moisturizers. Sanova Dermatologists suggest you follow these seven steps this winter to help you avoid the dreaded winter itch.

  1. Cool it on the hot showers! Long hot showers feel great in the winter but unfortunately, cause dry skin. Hot water strips away the natural oils so use lukewarm water instead. Limit your shower to five minutes then pat yourself dry leaving your skin a little moist. Apply your moisturizer immediately after your shower to trap water in.
  2. Choose your cleanser wisely. In Winter, choose a body wash or bar soap that is labeled as moisturizing. Use only a small amount of cleanser and skip any areas that are excessively dry. Avoid harsh antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers as these remove surface oils exacerbating dryness.
  3. Chose a moisturizing cream instead of a lotion. Creams are thicker than lotions because they contain more oil. Oil such as jojoba, sunflower, and almond oil form an occlusive layer on the skin’s surface that prevents water loss to the environment.
  4. Look for these powerhouse ingredients. Ceramides are one of the most important moisturizing ingredients. These tiny lipid molecules reinforce the skin’s natural barrier protecting it from the harsh winter environment. Hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge and can hold 1000 times its weight in water. Glycerin is a feel-good ingredient that leaves skin silky smooth.
  5. Shed old skin cells. Sloughing dry dead skin cells is essential for preventing ashy -looking skin. Hydroxy acids are chemical exfoliants that slough dead skin cells leaving fresher, younger-looking skin on the surface. Look for moisturizers with lactic acid, glycolic acid or gluconolactone.
  6. Add healthy fats to your diet. Combat dry skin from the inside out by adding an extra dose of omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential part of the skin’s lipids. Omega 3 also reduces inflammation and can calm irritated skin. We suggest you load up on salmon, tuna, and avocados as these foods are rich in omega-3’s.
  7. Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to your environment is the best way to prevent dehydration. Indoor humidifiers should be placed in your bedroom and other areas of your home where the family gathers, especially in rooms with a fireplace.

If dry skin persists, it may be the sign of something more serious. Medical conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and atopic dermatitis are associated with dry skin. Certain medications such as those used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol and allergies can also cause dryness. If you the simple steps outlined above don’t provide relief, see your dermatologist.

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