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10 Tips to Prevent the Dry Skin Associated With Cold Weather

The colder the season, the drier the skin. For people with normally dry skin, the cold weather could also mean itchy and inflamed skin.

“The best think you can do to relieve the itch is to ‘undry’ your skin, because you can’t do anything about the weather,” says Dr. Rachelle A. Scott, associate attending dermatologist at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Robert R. Walther, attending dermatologist at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, says, “Remember, dry skin is due to a lack of water, not oil. Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing or showering to trap water in the skin.”

Drs. Scott and Walther suggest the following tips for attaining healthier skin:

1. Moisturize daily — cream moisturizers are best for normal to dry skin, and people with sensitive skin should use a moisturizer that is perfume- and lanolin-free.

2. Cleanse your skin, but don’t overdo it — the hands, face, feet and between the folds of the skin may be washed daily. The trunk, arms and legs can be rinsed daily, but avoid using soap or cleanser on these areas every day. Too much cleansing removes natural moisturizers from the skin.

3. Limit the use of hot water and soap — for “winter itch,” take short, lukewarm showers or baths with a non-irritating, non-detergent-based cleanser, and follow up by applying a water-in-oil type moisturizer immediately afterward. Gently pat skin dry.

4. Humidify.

5. Protect yourself from the wind — cover your face and use a petroleum-based lip balm for the lips.

6. Avoid the extreme cold — cold temperatures can cause skin disorders or frostbite in some people.

7. Avoid excessive heat — Do not keep you heat above 78 degrees; it depletes moisture from the air and adds to winter itch. And, avoid using heating pads or keeping your legs in front of the fireplace for long periods of time.

8. Use sunblock to protect your skin from the sun.

9. Exercise — 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week is recommended to give skin a healthy glow.

10. See your dermatologist — if you have persistently dry skin, scaling, itching or other rashes or skin growths that concern you, see your dermatologist throughout the year.

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