10 Tips from Dermatologists for Dry Skin in Winter
Dry skin usually occurs when the moisture in your skin is removed. This can be caused by many internal factors, genetics, age, medical conditions, medication, etc., as well as external factors, weather, cosmetic products, humidity, etc. Dry skin isn't usually serious. There are many ways to improve your skin on your own, including using moisturizers and avoiding harsh, drying soaps. But sometimes dry skin is either chronic or severe. In these cases, you can seek the help of a dermatologist.
Dry skin is usually temporary but it may be a lifelong condition. Signs and symptoms of dry skin depend on your age, your health, where you live, etc. However, there are many easy ways to help dry skin so you feel good in the winter months, including some easy changes to your everyday routine.
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1. Invest in a humidifier
The drier the air, the drier the skin. To maximize the amount of water in the air, dermatologists recommend placing a humidifier in the room where you spend the most time, which, in many cases, is the bedroom. A cool air humidifier will increase the moisture level of the air which helps the skin's barrier stay hydrated. To avoid additional dryness, it is important to keep the heat at a low or moderate temperature.
One of the most important and commonly missed steps in the dry skin game is changing to a hydrating moisturizer. It is best to look for creams, as opposed to lotions, which are made with ceramides as well as hyaluronic acid. Ceramides help in the protection of the skin's barrier, which is easily broken down during the winter months.
3. Avoid very Hot Showers
It may sound tempting to take long, hot showers during the winter months, but it will be much better for your skin if you limit them to 5-10 minutes. It would be even better if you could avoid using hot water when you wash your hands. Not only does the cooler water avoid drying your skin, but it also doesn't irritate your skin.
4. Cleanse gently
The wrong soap can worsen itchy, dry skin. For instance, regular bar soaps usually contain irritating ingredients and fragrances. Instead, use a fragrance-free, moisturizing cleanser, body wash, or gel. And do look for products that are specifically labeled as fragrance-free because unscented products may contain fragrances.
5. Don't skip out on the sunscreen
Even on bright winter mornings, the sun is in the sky increasing your risk of exposure. That means whether you're out strolling, or just walking through a parking lot on an errand run, it's just as important to apply sunscreen in the harsh winter weather as it is in the summer. And don't be fooled by darker, dreary days in winter. The sun's harmful UV rays can permeate clouds and still cause damage. Before you go outside remember to apply a moisturizing and broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all of the exposed areas of your body.
6. Adjust your evening skincare routine
Overnight treatments are an excellent way to rejuvenate or prevent dry skin. Emollients are great for moisturizing. However, because they're a heavier type of cream, it can take longer for them to be absorbed into your skin. When you apply an emollient to your skin overnight, your skin has the time it needs to absorb the treatment and for the emollient to restore your skin with the moisture and oils that it needs. If you're applying an ointment to your hands or feet, you should try wrapping them in a plastic bag or gloves to prevent spreading the emollient on your sheets or bed covers.
7. Avoid exfoliants and scrubs
Exfoliation helps in the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and can help keep your skin looking smooth. However, it's possible to over-exfoliate your skin if you do it too often or use the wrong products. If your skin looks dry or flaky, you may want to use a more gentle chemical exfoliant rather than a physical scrub. Harsher scrubs have larger particles that are more likely to break down the moisture barrier of your skin and cause great damage. If your skin is cracked, inflamed, or irritated, it may be best to avoid exfoliation until your skin has healed.
8. Tweak your diet
Another key step to keeping your skin healthy and glowing is to make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the day. Not taking in enough fluid can affect the appearance of your skin and also make it more vulnerable to drying out. Besides staying well hydrated, you should also focus on eating foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these nutrients can protect your cells from external damage and help your body produce healthy cells, including skin cells.
9. Wear fabrics that suit your skin
Fabrics made for cold weather usually aggravate the skin so it is best to keep such fabrics like wool and rough clothing from directly touching your skin. These fabrics cause the dry skin to get further irritated and itchy. To combat this, you could wear a light layer of soft and breathable fabrics, which can be used against your skin, and then put your heavier layers such as sweaters and coats. It would be even better if you could protect your hands from drying winter months by using gloves or mittens with a silk or cotton liner.
10. Consider professional treatment
A specialist can analyze your skin type, rectify your current skincare regimen, and give you accurate advice on the skincare products that you should be using. But that doesn't mean you should be buying high-end products. Inexpensive products work just as well as higher-end ones. In fact, the extra price you pay for expensive products is often just for packaging and marketing. What's most important is how your skin responds to the product, and how you like it feels, not how much money you paid for it.