Winter weather takes a beating on the skin, leaving it flaky, red, and rough. Severely dry skin- also known as xerosis- can show up on your arms, hands, lower legs, ankles and even your scalp. Excessive sun exposure, bathing, or use of harsh soaps, detergents or chemicals can also trigger dry skin.
Making a few simple changes in your daily skin care regimen and lifestyle can help you to overcome severely dry skin. Keep baths and showers short. Hot water strips the essential oils from your skin, drying out your skin. Limit yourself to a 10-miute warm shower or bath. Look for unscented, soap-free, or mild soap cleansers and body washes. These will be the least likely to irritate and exacerbate dry skin problems. When you come out of the shower, pat your skin damp and then apply moisturizer. Your skin will be more accepting to lotions within 3-5 minutes after washing.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get successful results. Read the labels and look for certain ingredients. Ceramides, or synthetic ceramides, helps skin retain water and soothe dry skin. Dimethicone and glycerin draws water to the skin and keeps it there. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is like ceramides and also helps the skin to retain moisture. Lanolin, mineral, and petroleum jelly are other ingredients that help skin hold on to the water absorbed during bathing.
Dr. Obagi says, “Don’t forget sunscreen when you leave the house. You should apply a broad spectrum sunscreen on all exposed parts of your body. Look for SPF30 or higher, as in ZO Skin Health Oclipse Sunscreen +Primer Broad Spectrum SPF30. When it comes to sunscreen, more is more. Make sure to reapply sunscreen often when in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Applying sunscreen regularly will not only help prevent dry skin, it will prevent aging as well.”
Use a humidifier at home to keep skin hydrated during winter months. Indoor air is dry so you want to make sure your skin won’t suffer. Drink plenty of water and green tea, and try to eat foods that are rich in omega-3. Essential fatty acids can be found in cold-water fish like salmon and halibut, flax, walnuts, and safflower oil; it helps fortify skin’s natural oil-retaining barriers. If you feel your skin is itchy or inflamed, apply a cool compress or a hydrocortisone cream on the area for a few days to one week.
If you still see redness and irritation, see your dermatologist to find out if there is more to your dry skin than meets the eye.