Does your skin become dry, flaky, and itchy in the winter months? You’re in good company. People of all ages suffer from dry-skin issues even when they have no other skin problems. Here are four things you should know about dry skin in winter.
The Causes of Dry Skin in Winter
The lack of moisture in the skin is a cause of many winter-related skin discomforts. Your skin surface is composed of an underlying layer of living skin with an outermost layer of dead skin cells. Normally, the dead skin cells are mixed with natural oils that serve as a protective skin barrier.
The skin barrier prevents microorganisms and irritating materials from entering the skin while keeping moisture inside the living skin layer. Exposure to certain substances and environmental conditions deplete the moisture and natural oils in the outermost layer and leave the skin vulnerable to dryness.
Conditions and substances that deplete oils from the outer layer of skin include the following:
- Too-hot baths and showers
- Overuse of soaps and shampoos
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
- Dry interior air from heat
- Exposure to wind and cold temperatures
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Underlying skin disease or infection
- Lack of proper moisturizers
When you know the causes of your dry, itchy skin, you’re in a better position to heal your skin’s excess winter dryness.
The Steps You Can Take to Combat Dry Winter Skin
There are several ways you can combat your itchy, flaky skin in winter without professional help. One of the best ways to help your skin is to run a humidifier in your home if your heating system dries out the inside air. A tried-and-true method to increase interior air humidity is simmering a pot of water on the wood stove or cooktop.
Additional strategies for preventing and healing dry skin include:
- Eat more foods with omega-3 fats including walnuts, salmon, and olive oil.
- Avoid the use of soaps with added chemicals, alcohol, antibacterial agents, and fragrances.
- Wash clothes with detergent made for sensitive skin.
- Sip pomegranate juice to add cell-protecting antioxidants to your system.
- Wear gloves and face protection outdoors to keep your hands and face from drying out.
Don’t sit directly next to heaters and fireplaces during the winter months. The excessive heat from flames and heaters can dry out skin and cause skin problems.
The Right Way to Bathe and Shower
When you take baths or showers, get out of the water after five to 10 minutes to limit your skin’s exposure to water. Avoid bathing or showering with hot water, which can deplete the oils on the skin. Close the bathroom door when you bathe or shower to keep moisture in the room.
As noted above, soaps with chemicals are not recommended during winter. Use a natural soap that’s made for sensitive skin when you bathe and shower. Apply the minimum amount of soap necessary to clean dirt and grime.
Blot your skin dry instead of roughly rubbing your skin with the towel. Whenever possible, apply an ointment or cream to your just-washed skin as soon as possible after the exposure to water and soap. Refrain from bathing too often in the winter months.
The Benefits of Compounded Ointments and Creams
Ointments, creams, and moisturizers are three ways you can add more moisture to your skin. Of the three treatments, ointments and creams are the most effective at treating dry winter skin.
However, many over-the-counter moisturizers contain added chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and/or irritation. If you read the ingredients listed on the containers of many commercial moisturizers, you most likely can’t pronounce half of the extended list of added chemicals.
Unless directed by your physician, avoid products with the following ingredients to moisturize your dry skin:
- Alpha hydroxyl acids
Talk to your dermatologist about your skin issues. They can prescribe a custom ointment or cream that doesn’t include skin-irritating ingredients.
Your compounding pharmacist can create ointments and creams that are safe and made of natural or non-irritating ingredients. Some compounding pharmacies create their own skin-safe ointments and creams that are available without a prescription.
Compounded ointments and creams with no preservatives often need to be stored in airtight, dark containers to maintain the freshness of the ingredients. Some compounded ointments and creams should be used quickly because of the lack of preservatives.
Don’t suffer from dry, scaly, uncomfortable skin this winter. Discuss your skin issues with your doctor and your compounding pharmacist to learn more about soothing compounded ointments, creams, and moisturizers.
If you’re suffering from dry, irritated skin for any reason in the Peoria, AZ, area, contact Potter’s House Apothecary Inc. today. Our accredited pharmacy offer compounded moisturizers to soothe and treat a variety of dermatological issues. We will help you soothe your dry skin so you don’t have to suffer during the winter months.