1. Avoid hot showers and baths
It’s natural. We all think that a long, hot shower will be the perfect remedy for a cold-winter day but hot showers actually pulls moisture away from the skin and dehydrates it, leaving it dry and dull. Keep your showers short and as cool as possible in order to lock in as much moisture as you can naturally. Think about it this way; short, cool showers will save the environment and your skin.
2. Choose soap-free products
Using regular bars of soap not only gets rid of dirt and grime, it also removes the body’s natural oils too. This can leave the skin very dry and susceptible to itching and eczema. So, it is best to use a gentle, soap-free wash that does not contain fragrances that can cause allergy and eczema over time. Examples of these washes can be found in your local pharmacy.
3. Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
This may seem obvious but without replenishing moisture and helping to restore the skin barrier with a moisturiser, your skin will almost certainly dry out over winter. It is best to use creams rather than lotions because creams stay on the skin and penetrate the layers of the skin more effectively. If something comes out of a pump-pack, its usually a lotion. Creams are usually packaged in tubes and tubs.
Newer moisturisers containing special ‘ceramides’ are now available for people who are prone to eczema (ask your dermatologist about these). Always look for pharmacy-grade moisturisers and ask your doctor or dermatologist for advice on which ones are best for you.
4. Protect – from the elements
If your fingers and toes (and sometimes ears and nose) are not protected with clothing and you step out into a damp, cold atmosphere, the blood vessels will shut down to preserve heat. If this happens regularly, you may be susceptible to developing chilblains. This is more likely in the young, elderly and those with circulation problems. For more information on chilblains, click here. To prevent chilblains, don’t forget your gloves, warm shoes and may be even your ear muffs!
5. Keep moisture in the air
With the winter chill, it is inevitable that we will turn on the heaters in our homes, cars and offices. If you are the type of person that likes to turn the heat up, putting a humidifier in your room will add moisture back into the environment and will help prevent your skin from drying out.
People with skin of colour are more likely to have dry skin because of they lose more water from their skin to the environment (called transepidermal water loss) and have a lower ceramide-to-cholesterol ratio which makes the winter just a little bit harder to handle in this population.
Sometimes dry, itchy skin is a sign that the thyroid gland is not working properly or that there is some other underlying medical issue that needs to be treated. It is important to consult your doctor or dermatologist if your dry skin persists.