Dr. J’s Ten Best Ways to Beat Dry Skin
By Jennifer Hanes, DO
As the winter months drag on, snow is not the only source of flakes. There is no need to suffer with dry, itchy skin any longer. Here are ten great ways to keep your skin moist in winter both indoors and out.
1. Lubricate with baby oil after your shower. Most people apply a lotion rather than an oil based product. To check, read the ingredients on your lotion and most likely the number one ingredient is water. This does not help to seal in the moisture of your skin. And while you may think you lack the time to apply it daily, it only takes a moment. Keep a bottle of baby oil in the shower and squirt it on your skin when you finish. Then as your dry off with your towel the oil will cover your body. (But do be careful as this can make your shower floor very slippery, best to step onto the bath mat first.)
2. Apply almond oil to your hands, feet and scalp. At night, wash your hands and feet with an exfoliating scrub (or lather your hands and then add a teaspoon of sugar). The exfoliation will help to remove those dead skin cells from the surface allowing the oil to penetrate better. Liberally apply the oil to your hands and feet and wear socks and cotton gloves to bed. The heat will help the oil to soften your skin even more. If an itchy flaky scalp is a problem, rub the oil into your scalp at night and sleep in a shower cap. The next morning shampoo out the oil for an itch-free hair day.
3. Throw out your humidifier. If you have a portable humidifier you should reconsider before continuing its use. Most are not cleaned properly with bleach every-other day and thus become a breeding ground for mold and spores. To add moisture to your home, keep a large pot of water on the stove. Every time you enter the kitchen, turn the water on to boil allowing the vapors to humidify the house. It is also a wonderful aromatic therapy adding cinnamon sticks or lemon peel or even rosemary for a pleasant fragrance.
4. Drink more water. As simple as it sounds, drinking more water each day will help your skin to remain fresh, plump and soft. It is impossible to have well hydrated skin if your body is dehydrated. If you feel thirsty you are already low on fluids. Drink up.
5. Burn, baby burn. Propane that is. If you have a natural gas fireplace in your home, you are very fortunate. The fireplace actually creates water vapor adding moisture to your home as opposed to the furnace which dries out the house with its forced air. (For you budding chemists; C3H8 + 502 ——- 3CO2 + 4H20).
6. Turn down the thermostat. If your home is heated with a furnace it would be beneficial to turn back the temperature. All that forced heat is drying your skin and body. Many of my patients report that if dressed warmly they sleep comfortably with the house kept in the low 60s. Experiment and see what temperature range works best for you.
7. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and will encourage your body to lose even more water during the time you need it most. Drink water or club soda instead to help build your reserves.
8. Limit your shower time. Although a long hot bath or shower feels fantastic, to avoid dry skin, shorten the time. Hot water dries the skin and those long hot showers you like on cold winter days are costing you itchy skin just a few hours later.
9. Should you still need a little help to banish that alligator skin, you can up the ante with applying petroleum jelly to your skin after your bath. Since it is thicker than baby oil it provides a better barrier and thus more relief. It melts into the skin quite quickly so it is not as messy and difficult as one might think.
10. If all else fails, take a vacation to the tropics and slather on the sun screen. But a far less expensive solution is to give steps one through nine a try!
A board certified emergency physician, Jennifer Hanes, D.O., discovered that patients have greater success when they understand their bodies. With that unique philosophy, she founded Empowered Medicine, PLLC, where knowledge is powerful medicine. She empowers patients with her articles, motivational speeches and private consultations. You can learn more at www.DrHanes.com.